2021 has come with a bang, at least in India. The Centre recently drafted a bill which proposes to ban the sale of loose cigarettes, increase fines for public smoking, remove designated smoking areas in public, and increase the smoking age limit to 21.

Citizens of the country have constantly been subjected to the hazardous effects of smoking through advertisements and campaigns, and also through gory visuals showing how adversely it affects the body, played in the public interest before a movie.

While the move is a positive one, we ask the Centre why an action has been taken only now? We have known the hazardous effects of smoking and using tobacco products for several years now, then why not curb the use then?

Tobacco Has Been A Major Contributor To Indian Economy

A study by the Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI) showed that the tobacco centre was among the highest contributors to the Indian economy and generated a value of Rs. 11,79,498 crore INR in 2019.

It also amounts to a significant percentage of the total commercial crops in India, and generates a great deal of economic benefit, in the form of agricultural employment, farm incomes, revenue generation, and foreign exchange earnings,” the study added.

The industry also employed around 4.57 crore people and India was also among the largest exporters of tobacco.

With major players like ITC, Golden Tobacco Company, and Kothari Products garnering a huge amount of profit through the sale of cigarettes, there was a bigger game at play rather than just looking out for the health of people.

What Does The Draft Say?

The proposed draft plans to increase the legal smoking age to 21, and increase the fine for violation of public smoking norms up to Rs. 2000. Up until now, the fine was mere Rs. 200! So much for accumulated tar in the lungs of passive smokers.

Also Read: Delhi Police Hilariously Explains Weird Effects Of Smoking Imported Ganja (Marijuana)

Along with the two, there is a proposed ban on designated smoking areas in restaurants, airports, and all other public spaces. The amendment also targets illegal manufacturers and plans on increasing the punishment to curb the sale of unpermitted tobacco.

Moreover, there shall be no sale of tobacco, or tobacco products to a person below the age of 21, and ‘in an area within a radius of one hundred meters of any educational institution.’

Smoking Has Become A Cultural Symbol

More than 10 million people in India die each year due to the consumption of tobacco products, a substance which has absolutely no health benefits. India is home to 12% of the world’s smokers (according to a WHO report) and it is high time we take action to completely stop the sale of tobacco.

While we are very well aware of the country’s political inclination towards tobacco, it is time to consider people’s lives higher than the economic scale.

Major players would not hesitate to promote tobacco products to fill their pockets. Moreover, films and media promote smoking to a great extent as well, making it seem ‘cool’.

While it is made to seem that the youth is fizzled by the smoking culture, to a large extent it is the culture propagated around them that promotes the smoking culture.

While the draft does propose the required changes, the tobacco sector’s role in the country’s economy cannot be ignored and needs to be questioned.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Business Today, Money Control, Business Standard

Find The Blogger: @AishuPoshu

This post is tagged under: Legal Smoking Age; Tobacco Bill Amendment; Indian tobacco company; ITC; Tobacco farming; Revenue growth; no smoking; Smoking ban; Indian Smoking culture; Tobacco Sector; Centre amends tobacco bill; Commercial crops; cigarettes

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