Narendra Modi government is cracking down against tobacco, especially on the free-ranging sale of tobacco. Now, the Ministry of Health has proposed that tobacconists must register with the local civic authority. The new regulation also said that they cannot sell products like candies and cold drinks which attract children and non-smokers to the shop, according to Hindustan Times report. The ministry has asked the state governments to come out with a mechanism through which the municipal authority can provide “permission/authorisation” to retail outlets selling tobacco products, a report from the Hindu said. The products include cigarette, bidi, chewable gutkha and khaini.
The letter, which was sent to the States on September, reads, “We believe that such an initiative will prove to be beneficial in achieving the objective of preventing children/ non-user from exposure to tobacco products,” the Hindu reported.
Arun Jha, economic advisor to the ministry, said: “The idea is to track every single shop selling tobacco products by making them register with the local municipal authority. The government should be able to identify all cigarette shops running anywhere in the country,” as per Hindustan Times. According to a government-approved survey, every fifth adult in this country is addicted to gutkha and khaini, while another 100 million people smoke cigarettes and bidis.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, cancer specialist at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and an anti-tobacco crusader, said, “tobacco initiation age in India is about 16 years..Tobacco shops are mushrooming and this order could act as a stronger deterrent than the current lenient law,” as per the report. Cancer, which also causes due to chewing of tobacco, is growing at an alarming pace. According to the HT report, close to 60 per cent cancers are preventable, of which 40 per cent are related to tobacco.