In what may come as a relief for parents, shops licensed to sell tobacco products will not be allowed to sell any non-tobacco products.
The move is aimed at preventing exposure of children to tobacco products.
According to a letter circulated by economic adviser in the ministry of health and family welfare, Arun Kumar Jha, stated, "It is felt that the regulation of tobacco products can be made more effective. It will be appropriate to develop a mechanism to provide permission or authorization through Municipal Authority to the retail shops who are selling tobacco products"
“Further, it would also be appropriate to make a condition or provision in the authorization that the shops authorized for selling tobacco products, cannot sell any non-tobacco products such as toffees, candies, chips, biscuits, soft drinks, etc., which are essentially meant for non-user, especially children,” Jha said in the letter.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, discourages sales.
What Section 6 of the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 says
— Prohibition of smoking in all public places
— Prohibition of direct and indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of cigarettes and other tobacco products
— No person shall sell, offer for sale or permit sale of cigarette or any other tobacco product
— to any person under 18 years
— within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution
“The central government has enacted the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), to discourage the use of tobacco, with emphasis on protection of children and young people from being addicted to the use of tobacco, with a view to achieve improvement of public health in general,” stated Jha.
However, institutes find it hard to monitor. Shops in the proximity of educational institutes sell a good collection of chocolates and chips that kids and teenagers are fond of. But, along with that, cigarettes and tobacco are sold too.
Most shopkeepers are apathetic about the age of their customers.
Any offence committed under Section 4 or Section 6 may either before or after the institution of the prosecution be compounded by such officer authorised by the Union government or State government and for an amount, which may not exceed Rs 200.
Giving or selling tobacco to a child attracts up to seven years of rigorous imprisonment under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.