In a bid to curb the increasing consumption of tobacco, the Union health ministry has decreed that tobacconists can no longer sell candies and soft drinks. Additionally, they will require authorisation by local civic bodies to even vend tobacco products like cigarettes, bidi, chewable gutkha and khaini.
The reason behind banning the sale of non-tobacco products such as toffees, candies, chips, biscuits, and soft drinks at these shops is that they attract many youngsters and non-smokers who are quite susceptible to taking up the practice.
According to Hindustan Times, the ministry passed the proposal on September 21 asking all states to develop a mechanism wherein registration of these shops will only be approved by municipal corporations.
“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,” Arun Jha, who is the economic advisor with the ministry, told HT.
However, the primary objective behind this move is to discourage tobacco abuse, especially among children and young adults. Reportedly, every fifth person in India happens to be a gutkha or khaini addict, while about 10 crore people smoke cigarettes and bidis.
Jha also explained that they plan on tracking the sale of tobacco products to minors and that these shops will no longer hoard advertisements of tobacco products.
“Tobacco initiation age in India is about 16 year. Tobacco shops are mushrooming and this order could act as a stronger deterrent than the current lenient law,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.
While smoke-related diseases such as cancer and respiratory disorders continue to kill as many as a crore individuals every year, it is quite obvious that precaution can help avert such diseases.
While activists have been fighting to enforce stringent legal restrictions on tobacco usage for decades now, authorities are working on different ways to curtail the popular habit.