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Centre drafts law to raise legal age of smoking to 21 years

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New Delhi: The Centre has prepared a bill to raise the age for allowing sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 years from the current 18 years.

The government has drafted the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Act, 2020.

The provision for raising the age limit to 21 years is part of the new bill being piloted by the Union Health Ministry. The bill seeks to amend further the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

Under the amendments proposed in the bill, “No person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit sale of, cigarette or any other tobacco product (a) to or by any person who is under twenty-one years of age, and in an area within a radius of one hundred meters of any educational institution.”

Section 7 is being amended to say, “Provided that the trade and commerce in cigarette or any other tobacco product shall be in sealed, intact and original packaging.” It also adds a provision, “No person shall, directly or indirectly, produce, supply or distribute cigarettes or any other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products produced, supplied or distributed by him is having minimum quantity as may be prescribed.”

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Contravention of this Section 7 will lead to imprisonment of two years or fine going up to Rs 1 lakh and second conviction leading to prison for 5 years or fine going up to Rs 5 lakh.

The bill also has a provision for coming down on manufacture and sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco products. Sale of illicit products will lead to punishment of imprisonment of 1 year and a fine of Rs 50,000 and a second conviction of imprisonment of 2 years and Rs 1 lakh. The fine on manufacture of illicit cigarettes is imprisonment of 2 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh.

The penalty for smoking at restricted areas is being increased from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000.

The amendment on advertising says, “No person shall directly or indirectly advertise cigarettes or any other tobacco products through any medium and no person shall take part in any advertisement that directly or indirectly promote the use or consumption of cigarettes or any other tobacco products.”

In the Preamble, after the words “…..take concerted action to eventually eliminate all direct and indirect advertising, promotion and sponsorship concerning tobacco” the words, “AND WHEREAS, India is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 9WHO FCTC) adopted in Geneva, Switzerland on 21st day of May, 2003 which came into force on the 27th day of February, 2005” will be inserted.

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