Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur today introduced a bill in the assembly to impose a complete prohibition of sale of loose cigarettes and beedies and regulation of retail business of Cigarettes and other tobacco products operating in the State.

The Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Sale of Loose Cigarettes and Beedies and Regulation of Retail Business of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Bill of 2016 makes the registration of retailers of cigarettes and other tobacco products mandatory. Health Minister, in his written statement in assembly, stated that

“With a view to discourage the consumption of Cigarettes and other Tobacco products by the general public and especially by the younger generation who use to purchase single cigarette or loose cigarettes and also to reduce the financial burden on healthcare spent on tobacco-caused diseases, disability, low productivity, morbidity and mortality, it has been decided to ban the sale of loose cigarettes and beedies and making mandatory for the registration of retail business of cigarette and other tobacco products in the State by law. The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003 provides for the manner of packaging and labeling of cigarettes and other tobacco products but is silent on the sale of loose cigarettes which do not have the prescribed warning signs mentioning the dangers of consumption. Accordingly, sale of loose cigarettes/beedies may defeat the purpose of discouraging the consumption among younger generation as the warning to the consumer about the dangers of consumption. The proposed Legislation provides for the registration of the retailers carry in retail business of the cigarettes and other tobacco products and imposition of complete prohibition on sale of loose Cigarettes and Beedies in the state”

The bill also makes the registration of retailers of cigarettes and other tobacco products mandatory. The offences are cognizable, bailable and compoundable. As per the bill, any person who contravenes the provision of registration for selling the tobacco products shall be punished with an imprisonment for up to three months or with a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.

For the second or subsequent contravention, the person may be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to one year, and with fine which may extend up to Rs 100,000.

For violating the ban on sale of loose cigarettes or bidis, a person shall be punishable with a fine of Rs 10,000 for the first offence and Rs 15,000 for the second and subsequent offence.

The bill empowers the police or any other authorised officer of the state to enter and search the business premises or any other place where the retail business of cigarettes and other tobacco products is being carried on or where such products are stored, and may seize such material if the official has a reason to believe that the provisions are being contravened.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.