Youth and cigarette vendors are unhappy with the Health Ministry’s proposal to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. Since most of youth purchase single cigarette instead of a pack containing 10 cigarettes the decision will have an adverse impact on their budget. They will have to shell out more money for buying the entire pack. The ministry has circulated a draft note on the ban. The centre is also planning to raise the age limit on tobacco consumption to 25 years from the present 18 years. The Health Ministry had set up a committee to recommend measures to bring down the consumption of tobacco products and curb their sale.
Health minister JP Nadda in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha said the ministry has accepted the recommendations of the committee, which was formed by the ministry, to review Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA).
Lal Pratap Yadav, a pan stall vendor from Kandivali said, “I earn five rupees by selling 10 single cigarettes but if this order is implemented then I will only earn two rupees by selling a pack containing 10 cigarettes.”
Abhishek Vishwakarma a college student said “We consume cigarettes daily. We will remain unaffected if a ban is imposed on the sale of loose cigarettes. We will buy the entire pack of 10 cigarettes and will store the remaining sticks for future use.”
Ashok Gupta from Mandakini Paan bedi shop said, “The rule which is likely to be introduced by the government will adversely affect us. People can’t afford to buy a packet of 10 cigarettes which will have a direct impact on the sales. We will lose our daily customers who buy one or two cigarettes everyday.”
Kalpesh Mahita from Kandivali said, “Only rich people are able to afford the cigarettes which are very expensive. I only smoke two cigarettes daily and a packet contains 10 cigarettes hence I won’t be able to purchase it. Smoking is prohibited in our office and I can’t smoke at home too. Hence I will have to smoke during the lunch break or after leaving from the office.”
The government has also been planning to increase penalties for smoking in public. Six years ago, India had banned smoking in public places. However, violations have been easy to spot ever since.
Ramesh Surve a Malad resident said, “There is no logic in banning sale of loose cigarettes as one can buy full packet and enjoy smoking. One person shall buy cigarettes pack, which can be distributed among his friends.”
There is already a ban on selling cigarettes and bidis near educational institutions and to those under the age of 18 years.
Satish Dave a Dahisar resident said, “People will smoke anyway. If a ban is imposed on cigarettes then it will be sold in black market. Drugs are also illegal but still they are sold. I am a smoker and want to quit smoking.”