Bombay HC Mulls Temporary Ban on Cigarette, Bidi Sale During Covid-19 Pandemic

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Seeking a temporary ban on the sale of cigarettes and bidis amid the lockdown, Bombay High Court has directed the state and central government to provide data on covid-19 patients addicted to smoking.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Thursday said, "If this is an issue which would matter and is fatal to the health of the citizens, we are of the opinion that measures would be required to ban sale of cigarettes and bidis during the pandemic.”

The court was hearing of a plea by Mumbai-based lawyer Sneha Marjadi on the shortage of beds in hospitals, lab test facilities and procurement of Remdesivir and oxygen. The court pondered over a temporary ban on the sale of cigarettes and bidis at least till the covid-19 battle is over.

“We are equally concerned as to whether the persons who are affected by Covid -19 and have become critical are persons smoking cigarettes and bidis, as it is by now well-known that the Covid-19 virus affects the lungs and weak lungs are affected more severely," the HC noted.

The court also ordered the state government to take a decision within a week and grant permissions to more labs to conduct RT-PCR rapid antigen tests. Noting the shortfall in Remdesivir, the court said the state and centre should ensure that the supplies should reach the patients and hospitals without any hurdles. “The patient or his relatives shall not be made to run from pillar to post to find out/locate the drug and the drug should be made available to the patient where he is being treated,” it ordered.

It also suggested forming a web portal and a 24×7 operational helpline so that inquiries on availability of beds ar met without any delay. “A non-response to any inquiry on availability of beds from a needy person, would not be tolerated” the court said.

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