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Ban on tobacco products; HC leaves decision on Govt

Jammu and Kashmir News

SRINAGAR, May 13: The state high court has left it for the government to ban the sale of loose cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state.
Disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice A M Magrey however counselled  the government to strictly enforce pictorial warning on the cigarette packets and other tobacco products. According to the HC, the prayer cannot be granted as it is the wisdom of the state authorities to decide as to impose a ban or not on the products.

The PIL was filed by one Mohammad Altaf Dar, a resident of Budgam in central Kashmir. The petitioner said that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is emerging as smoking capital of Northern India and smoking is almost double the nationwide prevalence as the state has 12% of cigarette smokers as compared to the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. He further added that it has also came to light that a greater number of adults, almost 67.9%, are exposed to tobacco smoking in offices.
He pointed out that the parliament of India has passed an Act, the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003, in order to regulate trade, commerce, supply, distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products in May 2004.
The petitioner urged that loose cigarettes and tobacco are mostly sold to younger generations who cannot afford a full packet. Firstly, it violates the Section 7 of the Act as without warning and secondly, it is catastrophic for the health of the young people including school going children. Mentioning states like Punjab, U.P, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh where Governments have already issued notifications to ban sale of loose cigarettes and tobacco in order to plug the loop holes in the Act. It is hoped that the Government of our state would pursue the same.