In an unprecedented move, the Maharashtra Government has banned the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis in the State. Consequently Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to ban the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis. Smoking has been linked to cancers and heart disease.
A notification issued by the state public health department on 24th September 2020 states that, the decision is in sync with sub-section (2) of section 7 of Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply & Distribution) Act, 2003 (ref). The notification is signed by principal secretary (health) Dr Pradeep Vyas.
As per the Global Tobacco Youth Survey 2016, Maharashtra has the lowest smoking rate in the country.
The move is aimed at ensuring that customers see the graphic, public health warnings mandated on cigarette packaging.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, cancer surgeon at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai said that the move is likely to impact youth aged 16-17, who do not have the financial resources to buy full packets of cigarette or beedis, but “fuel India’s tobacco epidemic” and grown-ups who bought loose cigarettes and “never felt the pinch of higher taxes imposed on tobacco goods.”
“Studies have shown that a 10% rise in taxes results in 8% drop in the number of smokers. But if people are allowed to buy a single cigarette, they don’t feel the effect of the higher taxes,” added Dr Chaturvedi.
However, some of the regular smokers also fear that buying a full pack will lead to an increase in his consumption and carrying a full pack will create more problems for the smokers.
On the other hand, few of the Cigarette sellers believe that such a ban will hit the business more adversely when it is already down because of Covid-19 pandemic spread across.