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Govt proposes to increase legal age of smoking to 21 years, ban loose cigarettes

Govt proposes to increase legal age of smoking to 21 years, ban loose cigarettes

The draft bill proposes to ban the sale of loose cigarettes, ban designated smoking rooms at restaurants and airports, and increase penalties for flouting the rules at public places

The government has sought to increase the penalty for selling tobacco products to person under the legal smoking age to seven years' imprisonment and up to Rs 1 lakh fine The government has sought to increase the penalty for selling tobacco products to person under the legal smoking age to seven years' imprisonment and up to Rs 1 lakh fine

The Centre has prepared a draft bill to increase the age to allow consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 years from 18 years currently. Additionally, the draft bill also proposes to ban the sale of loose cigarettes, ban designated smoking rooms at restaurants and airports, and increase penalties for flouting the rules at public places.

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.

One of the major amendments is under Section 6, which has increased the legal age of smoking to 21. As per the amendment, "No person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit the 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."

The government has also sought to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. Section 7 is being amended to say, "Provided that the trade and commerce in a cigarette or any other tobacco product shall be in sealed, intact and original packaging".

The government has also sought to increase the penalty for selling tobacco products to person under the legal smoking age from two years imprisonment and Rs 1,000 to seven years' imprisonment and up to Rs 1 lakh fine.

The bill also has a provision for coming down on the manufacturer and sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco products, which can lead to 1-year jail and Rs 50,000 fine.

The fine for manufacturing illicit cigarettes will lead to two years of jail and Rs 1 lakh fine. Also, the fine for smoking in restricted areas is being increased from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000.

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