Health ministry puts amendments in anti-smoking bill for public consultation

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2015 10:02 IST

Ban on selling lose cigarettes and increasing minimum age for buying tobacco products may soon be a reality, with the proposal getting law ministry’s nod.

The union health ministry on Tuesday moved on the recommendations in the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill 2015.

The ministry put it in public domain as part of pre-legislative consultations, with a view to elicit comments and views of those involved, including people.

“The law ministry has advised public consultation, so we have moved accordingly,” said Lov Verma, health secretary, government of India.

The views or suggestions can be provided till February 15 of this year.

Among the changes put forward, the minimum age of buying tobacco products has been increased to 21 years from the current 18 years.

“No person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit sale of, cigarettes or any other tobacco products loose or in single sticks to any person who is under 21 years of age; employ, engage or use any person who is under 18 years of age in cultivation, processing, sale of tobacco or tobacco products,” The proposed bill read.

There is also proposed a hefty fine for flouting norms, with those found smoking in public places ending up paying as high as Rs 1000. As of now, a person is charged Rs 200 if caught smoking in a public place.

Restaurants and hotels may also have to do away with smoking spaces altogether.

The amendments were made public in November last year and the delay in moving the proposal was attributed the severe opposition that the changes had met with from the tobacco industry and farmers.

Union health minister JP Nadda had informed during the Winter Session of Rajya Sabha about recommendations of the committee formed to review the existing Act, and proposal kept out in open for public debate and consultation.

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