Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to ban the sale of “loose” cigarettes and beedis.
A notification issued by the state public health department on Thursday states that, in sync with sub section (2) of section 7 of Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply & Distribution) Act, 2003, the state imposes a complete ban on sale of single stick loose cigarette and beedis. The notification is signed by principal secretary (health) Dr Pradeep Vyas.
This has been done because loose cigarettes were sold without packet, which carry graphic health warnings meant to educate the public about the harms of smoking. Smoking has been linked to cancers and heart disease.
Tata Memorial Hospital’s cancer surgeon Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi said that the new order would help cut down the habit among the youth. “The tobacco epidemic in India is fuelled by youth who are 16 to 17 years of age. They buy loose cigarettes as they don’t have the financial resources to buy a full packet,” he said. Also, grown-ups who bought loose cigarettes never felt the pinch of higher taxes imposed on tobacco goods.
“Studies have shown that a 10% rise in taxes results in 8% drop in the number of smokers. But if people are allowed to buy a single cigarette, they don’t feel the effect of the higher taxes,” added Dr Chaturvedi. As per the Global Tobacco Youth Survey 2016, Maharashtra has the lowest smoking rate in the country.