Govt set to ban sale of loose cigarettes
Hoping to discourage use of tobacco drastically, a high-powered panel has recommended to the Union Health Ministry to ban sale of loose cigarettes.
Move despite cigarette industry contributing Rs.25,000 cr in tax
- Health Ministry accepts high-power panel recommendations
- Circulates a draft note on proposed ban and other measures
- Loose cigarettes make nearly 70% of cigarette sales in India
- Also raising the minimum age of smokers from 18 has been proposed
- Sales likely to be hit nearly by 20 per cent if proposals implemented
- Stiffer penalties for public smoking also proposed in the note
New Delhi: Hoping to discourage use of tobacco drastically, a high-powered panel has recommended to the Union Health Ministry to ban sale of loose cigarettes.
Health Minister JP Nadda said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that "the Ministry has accepted the recommendations and a draft note for Cabinet has been circulated for consultation." The ministry has circulated a draft note on the ban.
As many as 102.1 billion sticks were smoked in India in 2012, according to Euromonitor International data. Nearly 70% of all cigarettes sales in India are in the form of loose cigarettes, with most smokers refusing to spend roughly around Rs 190-200 for a pack of 20.
The panel also suggested increasing minimum age for those who can buy tobacco products. There is already a ban on selling cigarettes and bidis near educational institutions and to those under the age of 18 years.
It may be noted that India banned smoking in public places. However, violations have been easy to spot ever since.
Now, the committee has proposed a bigger fine for violation of provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
The recommendations will now be put before the Cabinet and will require a Parliament nod before they are implemented.
Analysts say sales will take a 10 to 20 per cent hit if these proposals are made the law. The cigarette industry contributes Rs 25,000 cr in tax revenue, but health concerns are expected to override the loss from that.
Tobacco kills up to half of its users, killing nearly 6 million people – one death every 6 seconds – globally each year. Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths from cancers, heart disease, lung diseases and stroke, among others, is expected to increase to over 8 million annually by 2030, 1.5 million of them in India.