Punjab on Tuesday banned the sale of loose cigarettes and loose tobacco, becoming the first state to impose such a ban.
Confirming the development, Dr Rakesh K Gupta, state programme officer, Tobacco Control Cell, Punjab, said the sale of loose cigarettes and loose tobacco violated Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA).
Section 7 prohibits any trade in cigarettes or other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products sold, supplied or distributed by him bears thereon, or on its label, the specified warning, including pictorial warning.
The state government, in a press release, said all deputy commissioners had been directed to ensure strict implementation of the government directive.
Dr Gupta said, “Loose cigarettes are affordable and do not carry a pictorial or written warning, so this order will help in decreasing the prevalence of consumption among the youth.”
According to anti smoking activists, by banning loose cigarettes and loose tobacco, the Government of Punjab has demonstrated tremendous commitment towards safe guarding the health of people of India and protecting the masses, especially the youth from the growing menace of tobacco addiction.
Commenting on the ban, Bhavna B Mukhopadhyay, executive director, Voluntary Health Association of India, said, “This step will go a long way in saving lakhs of lives and reducing government spending on treating tobacco-related diseases. The Union government should also ban the sale of loose cigarettes in the larger interest of the young generation which is falling prey to the tobacco menace and suffering premature death.”
Figures that matter
According to market research firm Euromonitor International India, 70% of the cigarettes in India are sold loose
In India; more than 10,000 crore sticks of cigarettes were smoked during 2012
As per a Union health ministry-World Health Organisation (WHO)-supported study by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), it is estimated that the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 amounted to Rs 1.04 lakh crore — 12% more than the combined state and central government expenditure on health care in the same year. Cardiovascular diseases shared the highest burden (Rs 3,600 crore) of direct medical and indirect morbidity costs on account of tobacco use, followed by respiratory diseases (Rs 2,800 crore), tuberculosis (Rs 2,300 crore) and cancers (Rs 1,400 crore).