Sale of loose cigarettes may be banned

Sale of loose cigarettes may be banned

Moving to crack down on tobacco consumption, government is proposing to ban sale of loose cigarettes and raise the the minimum age of those who can be sold tobacco products to 25 years from the current 18.

Another proposal under consideration is increasing fine for smoking in public and violation of other provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.

The recommendations in this regard have been made by an expert committee and Health Ministry has accepted it, Health Minister J P Nadda told Rajya Sabha today.

"The expert panel has recommended prohibition on sale of loose or single stick of cigarette, increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products... The ministry has accepted the recommendations of the committee," he told the Upper House in a written reply to a question.

Nadda said his ministry has circulated a Cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultations over the issu.

The ministry's move is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s framework convention on tobacco control which states that countries "shall endeavour" to prohibit such sales as it makes them more affordable for minors. India is a signatory to the convention.

A report by the Public Health Foundation of India, total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in year 2011 amounted to a shocking Rs 1.04 lakh crore, a figure often quoted by previous Health Minister harsh Vardhan as he sought stringent measures to curb tobacco use.

One of the major recommendations of the panel, which was asked to review and suggest changes to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, is that the fine for smoking in public should be increased to a whopping Rs 20,000 from the present Rs 200.

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