The State Health Department of Maharashtra issued a public notification banning the sale of ‘loose’ or unpacked cigarettes and beedis, making it the first state to do so.
This is in accordance with the subsection (2) of section 7 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (Act No. 34 of 2003) which mandates a public health warning on all cigarette and tobacco boxes. Loose cigarettes and beedis do not have descriptive warnings on them and hence, do not meet this criterion.
Consumers will now have to buy the whole box. The step has been taken to discourage young adults and teens from smoking as they may not have the financial capability to buy entire boxes. This will also ensure that each item is taxed which cannot be ensured with the sale of loose cigarettes. The State Health Department has urged the police and local players to ensure the ban’s implementation. However, many have taken to Twitter to question the implementation of this ban as there are a high number of small local street sellers who might continue to sell loose cigarettes and the state does not have the required mechanism to keep traders in check.
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