The tobacco industry feels the government’s latest draft cigarette and other tobacco products bill, which it expects will curb smoking, is “draconian” in parts and is a regulatory overreach when India already has amongst the most stringent regulations globally.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, has proposed increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21 years, ban sale of loose cigarettes, do away with smoking rooms in airports and restaurants, and increase penalties for flouting public smoking rules.
The draft bill made by the health ministry has been put in the public domain for stakeholder consultation.
The tobacco industry body, The Tobacco Institute of India (TII), said the draft bill will have far reaching consequences for 4.57 crore people whose livelihood is dependent on this industry. These include small retailers, traders, farmers, tribals and tendu leaf pickers, it said.
“The draft bill has several provisions which are draconian and given that the country already has amongst the most stringent regulations globally, this kind of regulatory overreach is not warranted,” TII director Sharad Tandan said in an emailed response to ET.
He said TII expects once all stakeholder consultations are over, the government will take a balanced view before taking it to the Parliament.
“It is a well-known fact that excessive regulation pushes the trade underground and results in it being taken-over by anti-social elements and criminals. The