Maharashtra has banned the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis.
In Pictures | Maharashtra announces ban on sale of loose cigarettes, beedis due to lack of warnings https://t.co/ymksRp2VAh— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) September 29, 2020
A public health department notification stated 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 (COTPA), 2003, the state imposes a complete ban on sale of single stick loose cigarette and beedis.
Before this, Chhattisgarh had banned the sale of loose cigarettes earlier this year, while Karnataka banned the sale of loose cigarettes, beedis and chewing tobacco in 2017.
The step to ban these has been taken because loose cigarettes were sold without packets, which carry graphic health warnings meant to educate the public about the harms of smoking. As per the Tobacco Free Union, over 1 million people die from tobacco-related diseases in India every year. Section 7 of COTPA mentions:
No person shall, directly or indirectly, produce, supply or distribute 6 cigarettes or any other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products produced, supplied or distributed by him bears thereon, or on its label 1 [such specified warning including a pictorial warning as may be prescribed.
Hence, making it compulsory for the cigarettes to be sold only with the graphic health warnings.
The Act also specifies that the cigarettes or any other tobacco products that have been packed for distribution, sale and supply should have specified warning on not less than one of the largest panels of the packet.
Well, the question to be asked is whether these bans are effective or not. The simple answer to this question depends on the widespread and stringent implementation of this ban.
At the same time, according to data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, India 2009–2010, 57 percent of cigarette smokers, 3.46 million approximately, in India bought loose cigarettes and according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the Scientific Society, loose cigarette buying is closely associated with decreased intensity of smoking. The study says:
This may be due to increased taxes leading to increased buying of single cigarettes.