SRINAGAR: The J&K high court on Monday directed government to file reply within two weeks on a Public Interest Litigation, seeking ban on the sale of loose cigarettes and other tobacco products in the state.
The directions were issued by a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussian Attar and Janak Raj Kotwal after hearing advocate Firdous A Parray, counsel representing the petitioner, Mohammad Altaf Dar of Budgam.
“The ban on sale of loose cigarettes and others tobacco products will discourage youth who cannot afford to purchase full packet of cigarette or tobacco and once they are discouraged and make it difficult for them to purchase cigarettes, it will protect the young generation from getting involved in such kind of menace,” Dar said.
He said that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was emerging as smoking capital of Northern India and the smoking was almost double the nationwide prevalence as the state has 12% of cigarette smokers as compared to the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. He said it has also came to light that highest proportion of adults, 67.9% ,are exposed to tobacco smoking in offices.
Dar said that the parliament of India passed 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 Act, he said, was passed in view of obligation enjoined by Article 47 0f the Constitution of India which casts obligation on the state to achieve improvement of public health section. The purpose behind the section 7 of the Act is to give warning to those persons who directly or indirectly are involved in selling or supplying or distribution of cigarettes by selling cigarettes and lose tobacco without carrying pectoral warning in order to make public aware of the consequence of smoking and use of tobacco. However, in order to defeat the provisions, Dar said, the pictorial warning was missing when a shopkeeper sells loose cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“The loose cigarette is mostly sold to younger generations who cannot afford a full package of cigarette or tobacco. On one side it violates the section 7 of the Act as without warning and on other side it plays havoc with the health of the young people including school going children,” he said.
Dar said that the states like Punjab, U.P, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh have already issued notifications to ban sale of loose cigarettes and tobacco in order to plug the loop holes in the Act.