Cigarette stub in ashtray

Students from a Shimla school proved loose cigarette ban isn’t working

SHIMLA- On Nov 4, 2015, Himachal Pradesh government had announced a complete ban on the sale of loose cigarettes  The government had said that the motive behind this step was to dissuade youngsters/school children from smoking.

However, in reality, the ban has made very little impact on the sale of loose cigarette. To prove this, three teens from St. Thomas School in Shimla went into field and asked for loose cigarettes at various shops in Shimla. It wasn’t a surprise that they got them easily. Similar to the ban on Gutka, Khaini, and other chewing tobacco products, this policy also seems to be rather backfiring.

These students tried to record evidences using their mobile camera. While, not all attempts were successful, the students were able to collect following video clips:

Video Clip Recorded by the Students

It raises another question about ethics of selling tobacco products. Shopkeepers are openly selling cigarettes even to school students. Despite legal prohibition on selling tobacco products to minors, students are able to buy them even when they are in dress.

Also Read : Despite a ban, Gutkha & Khaini are being sold for thrice the printed price

Also, the shopkeepers are charging couple of rupees more than what they used to charge earlier for loose cigarettes.

For instance, a cigarette that used to cost Rs. 5 is now being sold for Rs. 7. That means, Rs. 2 are adding into black market.

The reason behind it is again the laziness of the government in the implementation of newly formed policies. Health minister Kaul Singh had assured a strict implementation of the ban. While announcing the ban on November 4, Kaul Singh had said,

The youngsters buy sign cigarettes ……Our objective is to dissuade them from tobacco use and smoking. In case, we face any difficulty in implementation of ban through this notification, we may come out with a separate law on this.

It seems that government will need a separate law. But, interestingly, no law or rules & are likely to work if the government isn’t serious about their proper implementation.

The prohibition had come into immediate effect with the issue of a notification. The notification had also mentioned that violators shall be punished under Section 7 of the cigarette and other tobacco products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act of 2003.

Similar to it, on October 2, 2012, HP government had announced a complete ban on  the sale of chewing tobacco products, but shopkeepers still selling them illegally. No action is taken against the violators except a couple cases.

Definitely, the government needs to get serious about the implementation of their policies and rules & regulation. Just making announcement of bans will change nothing. Rather, it’s hurting economical balance of the state. Moreover, shopkeepers must be made aware regarding ethical duties and not to sell tobacco products to minors/ school children.

A Report prepared and submitted by Lakshay Bhimta, Samiksha Bhimta, and Parul Chadha from St.Thomas’ School (+12), Shimla

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