Ban on loose cigarettes: CM's office flooded with letters

Ban on loose cigarettes: CM's office flooded with letters

In the past three months, the Chief Minister's office was flooded with at least 8,000 fake letters requesting not to ban the sale of loose cigarettes.

These letters were written after the state government banned the sale of loose cigarettes on September 11.

"The CM's office forwarded these letters to the Department of Health and Family Welfare for verification and further action, said Dr T S Prabhakar, joint director (medical).

"The letters written by "petty shop owners" in Kannada and signed in English stated that the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes/beedis/chewing tobacco would affect their business and their families. The content of all the letters was the same while the same person appeared to have signed them with random names, addresses and phone numbers," an officer from the health department said.

On verifying, the health department officials did not find any authenticity in the letters. They said a strong lobby was working behind this letter campaign.

The National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) had recommended the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes. The objective behind this move was to educate smokers about the harmful effects of tobacco as a full packet will have a pictorial warning showcasing tobacco's harmful effects, the NTCP had said.

HC verdict a setback

The state tobacco cell officials said that the High Court of Karnataka's verdict on December 16 was a huge set back to their NTCP programmes.

The court had struck down the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 that mandated 85% pictorial warnings on all tobacco products.

"Most of the companies had 85% pictorial warning on their tobacco products and with the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes, the NTCP programmes were effectively being implemented. However, the court's order is a big blow to such programmes as now the tobacco companies will have only 40% pictorial warning on tobacco products packets," said Dr T S Prabhakar.

DH News Service

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