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To deter smokers, sale of loose cigarettes may be banned

While informing Rajya Sabha through a written reply on Tuesday, Nadda said, ‘The recommendations in this regard have been made by an expert committee and Health Ministry has accepted it. The panel has recommended prohibition on sale of loose or single stick of cigarette, increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products... The ministry has accepted the recommendations of the committee.’

The ministry’s move is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s framework convention on tobacco control which states that countries ‘shall endeavour’ to prohibit such sales as it makes them more affordable for minors. India is a signatory to the convention.

A report by the Public Health Foundation of India, total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in year 2011 amounted to a shocking Rs 1.04 lakh crore, a figure often quoted by previous health minister Harsh Vardhan as he sought stringent measures to curb tobacco use.

One of the major recommendations of the panel, which was asked to review and suggest changes to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, is that the fine for smoking in public should be increased to a whopping Rs 20,000 from the present Rs 200.

Earlier, in its bid to ensure a fit country, former health minister had called for a complete ban on cultivation of tobacco. Considering the manifold increase in the consumption of tobacco products posing a major threat to life, Vardhan had held a brainstorming-cum-consultation session with union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh for developing a scheme to rehabilitate tobacco cultivators without any economic loss to them.
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