In a bid to restrict smoking in public places, the Karnataka government has cracked down on the sale of loose cigarettes, beedis and chewing tobacco products on Wednesday.
According to a notification issued by the Under Secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the sale of loose cigarettes, beedis and chewing tobacco violates Sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003.
â€śThose violating the ban will be punished under Section 20 to COTPA, which states that a person can be imprisoned for up to one year or with fine up to â‚ą1,000 or both in the case of first conviction. A repeat offence stipulates imprisonment up to two years and fine up to â‚ą3,000,â€ť the notification states.
Though the notification was issued on September 11, the state government started implementing it Wednesday. A senior official with the Anti-Tobacco Cell told TNM that the government is planning to set up machinery to ensure that loose cigarettes are not sold and to ensure that people do not smoke in public places.
The ban was decided by the Stateâ€™s Anti-Tobacco Cell and the Department of Health and Family Welfare in view of the amendment to the Legal Metrology Act by the Centre.
According to Dr Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary of the Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department, the ban on smoking in public places had reduced the number of smokers. However, loose cigarettes and other tobacco products has led to people smoking in public after picking up a few smokes.
She said that oncologists and activists urged the government to ban the loose sale of cigarettes, beedis and chewing tobacco products in the interest of the public health.
The ban is expected to impact consumption of tobacco products as many smokers purchase loose cigarettes.
Dr Rajneesh said that the ban will stop youth from getting into the habit of smoking as most of them end up buying loose cigarettes. â€śAlthough cigarette prices have been increased, people still end up buying one or two, and it was defeating the purpose of trying to curb smoking,â€ť she added.