Explained | The recommendation to ban the sale of single cigarettes

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Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | The recommendation to ban the sale of single cigarettes” published in The Hindu on 28th December 2022

What is the News?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in its latest report has recommended several measures to reduce the use of tobacco products.

Note: National Health Policy (2017) aims to reduce current tobacco use by 30% in 2025.

What are the recommendations given by the committee to reduce the use of tobacco products?

Ban single sticks of cigarettes: Single sticks are more economical to acquire than a full pack of cigarettes. This may particularly appeal to adolescents and youth who may have limited money in hand. Single sticks are also preferred by people who may want to take them up for experimentation and have not started smoking on a regular basis.  

– Hence, a ban on single-stick sales would compel a potential consumer to buy the entire pack which may not be particularly economical, thus curbing potential experimentation and the scope for regular intake. 

– However, experts have said that in the absence of a vendor licensing regime, the ban on single sticks might not be very effective. For instance, India is having lakhs and lakhs of shops to sell tobacco hence enforcing the ban is not feasible.

The government must abolish all designated smoking areas in airports, hotels and restaurants in addition to encouraging a smoke-free policy in organizations. 

Increase taxes on tobacco: India has the lowest prices for tobacco products and thus, it must look to increase taxes on them. The revenue acquired from additional taxation could be used for cancer prevention and awareness.

Note: Oral cancer accounts for the highest proportion of cancer cases in India.

Ban on gutka: The committee sought a ban on gutka and pan masala alongside a prohibition on their direct and indirect advertisement. 

– This is based on the observation that, in India, more than 80% of tobacco consumption is in the form of chewing tobacco with or without areca nuts, aggressively marketed as a mouth freshener.

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