New Delhi: Sale of loose cigarettes is likely to be banned in India with the Union health ministry accepting the recommendations of on expert panel on tobacco use, Union health minister JP Nadda told Parliament on Tuesday.
“The (Union health) ministry has accepted the recommendations and a draft note for Cabinet has been circulated for consultation,” said Nadda, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
As many as 102.1 billion sticks were smoked in India in 2012, shows Euromonitor International data.
Nearly 70% of all cigarettes sales in India are in the form of loose cigarettes, with most smokers refusing to spend roughly around Rs. 190-200 for a pack of 20.
The expert panel has also recommended prohibition on sale of loose or single stick of cigarette, increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products, increasing the fine or penalty amounts for violation of certain provisions of the Act as well as making such offences cognizable.
The minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products is to be increased from 18 to 21 under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003. The recommendations will need a not from the Cabinet and Parliament before being implemented.
In India, the cigarettes market is dominated by three players – ITC with a retail volume share of 80%, followed by Godfrey Phillips India with 11% and VST Industries with 8%.
Tobacco kills up to half of its users, killing nearly 6 million people – one death every 6 seconds – globally each year. Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths from cancers, heart disease, lung diseases and stroke, among others, is expected to increase to over 8 million annually by 2030, 1.5 million of them in India.