On Tuesday, in an announcement, the State government of Punjab has said that the state's health department has banned the sale of loose cigarettes as single sticks and loose tobacco. By doing so, Punjab has become the first state to execute the ban. The ban had been enacted as the sale is in violation of Section 7 of the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products, Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003).
The Section 7 of COTPA prohibits any trade or commerce in cigarettes or any other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products sold, supplied or distributed contains specified warnings including pictorial warning. Since loose cigarettes are affordable and do not carry a pictorial or a written warning, it can't be sold.
AdvertisementMs. Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, executive director of the Voluntary Health Association of India said that the Punjab government had demonstrated tremendous commitment towards safeguarding the health of the people with the ban. She added, "This step will go a long way in saving lakhs of lives and also reducing the government spending on treating tobacco-related diseases. The Government of India should also completely ban the sale of loose cigarettes in larger interest of younger generation falling prey to this tobacco menace and suffering premature death."
Health Minister J.P. Nadda made an announcement in the Parliament that the Ministry had accepted the recommendations of the expert panel on COTPA amendments that prohibit the sale of loose cigarettes and raise the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products in the month of November. The panel proposed to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, adding that the penalty or fine for violation would be raised, as well as making such offenses would be made clearly identifiable and further informed that a draft note for the Cabinet had been circulated.
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