'Can't decide overnight on banning sale of loose ciggies'

The State government will take a decision on banning the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis after studying the implementation of the ban in other states.A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Health and Family Welfare Minister U T Khader said the State government cannot take any overnight decision in such cases. “The interest of tobacco growers and petty-shop owners should be protected. Today’s meeting decided to study how the ban is being implemented in other states,” Khader said.

He said the date of the next meeting had not been finalised. Already, seven states, including Maharashtra, have banned the sale of loose cigarettes (single sticks).

Siddaramaiah said experts had pointed out that unlike cigarette packets which carry written and pictorial warning about the ill effects of smoking, loose cigarettes carried no such deterrent. However, the warning on cigarette packets had not prevented people from smoking, the chief minister said, and directed the officials to study the impact of the ban in other states.

Law Minister T B Jayachandra and top officials of the law, health and horticulture department participated in the meeting. Khader is also said to have raised the issue of banning chewing tobacco. Former minister Suresh Kumar, on his Facebook post, stated that he had inside information that Khader’s lone voice went “uncared” at the meeting.

“The health of the tobacco lobby is obviously more important to the government than the health of the common man in the State. The cries of thousands of oral cancer victims and their families could not make the government sensitive,” Kumar stated. Kumar, however, was not present at the meeting.

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