02 Nov 2020: After Maharashtra, Delhi mulls banning sale of loose cigarettes, beedis
Aimed at discouraging people from smoking, the plan is still in its initial stages.
Besides Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh banned the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis, earlier this year; Karnataka did the same in 2017.
Maharashtra: Maharashtra wanted smokers to see warning on cigarette packs
In September, Maharashtra took the decision to ensure smokers see the warnings on cigarette packs.
The notification by the Shiv Sena-led government was issued under Subsection (2) of Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, supply and Distribution) Act, 2OO3.
The government in Delhi could use the same Act, reports TOI.
Ban: Legally, it is possible: Official on Delhi government's plans
A senior Delhi government official told HT that the legal framework won't stop such a ban.
"The rule laid down by the central government states that no person can trade or do commerce in cigarettes or any other tobacco product unless when such product is sold, supplied or distributed by him/her, it bears thereon on its label the specified health warning," the person said.
Taxes: Those buying loose products don't feel pinch of taxes
The plan is also steered by the fact that those buying loose cigarettes and beedis escape taxes, an official from the public health department told TOI.
The person added that the availability of loose products dismantles the government's efforts of educating the masses about harmful effects.
However, another person said imposing such a ban would not be easy, as loose cigarettes/beedis are easily accessible.
Ground reality: After Maharashtra's order, regular smoker said warnings don't affect anyone
While governments argue that a ban on loose cigarettes' sale will reduce smoking, it isn't entirely true.
Sayed Mehboob, a regular smoker, had earlier slammed Maharashtra's government's move, saying warnings don't deter anyone.
"The state government's move may backfire as those who smoke one daily will be tempted to smoke more if he/she is given the full packet," he told HT in September.
Data: 99.5 million adults smoke tobacco in India, found study
Notably, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for 2016-2017, concluded that a staggering 10.7% of Indian adults, 99.5 million, smoke tobacco; while 28.6% of all adults, roughly 266.8 million, consume tobacco — smoked or smokeless.
It was found that India has more beedi smokers than cigarette addicts.
Moreover, data suggested that a daily smoker spends Rs. 1,100/month on cigarettes while a beedi smoker spends Rs. 284/month.
Details: Months ago, government released new sets of "warning images"
In July, the Union Health Ministry had released new sets of health warnings, as well as images, to be printed on all tobacco-related products.
It was underlined that the first set of images have to be used on products being manufactured/imported/packaged on or after December 1, 2020, and the second set on those being manufactured/imported/packaged after December 1, 2021.
Fact: Tobacco products can't be distributed without specified warning: Health Ministry
"Any person engaged directly or indirectly in the manufacture, production, supply, import or distribution of cigarettes or any tobacco products shall ensure that all tobacco product packages shall have the specified health warnings exactly as prescribed," the Health Ministry had said.