The Punjab health department on Thursday asked the excise and taxation department to coordinate with it in the campaign against illegal hookah bars and the other establishments flouting anti-tobacco laws.
In a communiqué to the financial commissioner (excise and taxation), health department principal secretary Vini Mahajan has sought instruction for the field staff to ensure that every tobacco-product pack carries the mandatory pictorial warning that smoking is injurious to health. "This way, the illicit manufacturing and trade of tobacco products can be checked to a large extent," she stated.
Mahajan suggested the financial commissioner to even cancel the permits of all manufacturers whose tobacco products didn't carry the pictorial health warning that is mandatory under Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) of 2003. Being part of the district-level coordination committees for tobacco control, the excise and taxation department officials above the rank of inspector have powers to act under Sections 5 (prohibition of tobacco advertisement/promotion/sponsorship) and 7 (health warning on tobacco-product packs) of COTPA.
Mahajan also suggested the excise and taxation department to appoint nodal officers for tobacco control at the state and districts levels to coordinate with their counterparts in the health department for technical guidance and training.
Departments across the state have been sent instructions on how to punish the offenders and asked to check wholesale and retail dealing of illicit tobacco products. Mahajan stated that one in every 10 cigarettes consumed worldwide was illegal.