Nagpur: In order to curb the use of cigarettes, the Health Ministry has accepted the recommendation of expert panel to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. The ministry has circulated a draft note on the ban. After raising the taxes on cigarettes and calling for a countrywide ban on sale of tobacco products, Centre has been mulling the ban of branding on cigarette packets, raising the age limit on tobacco consumption to 25 years from the present 18 years.
The government has also been planning to increase penalties for smoking in public. Six years ago, India had banned smoking in public places. However, violations have been easy to spot ever since. There is already a ban on selling cigarettes and bidis near educational institutions and to those under the age of 18 years.
Nagpur Today spoke to some of the wholesale shops selling tobacco products in in this regard.
Packets will sell more!
According to Proprietor of R K Trader, situated at Coffee House Square, Dharampeth, Lalwani said that his customers usually are Pan Kiosk owners who buy packets in wholesale rates and sell them to their customers in loose and earn a sizeable profit. This includes, Cigarettes, Bidis, Tobacco pouches, cut or pieces of betel nuts (Suparis) both raw and semi-cooked, plastic sheets (on which they pack a mixture of betel nuts, lime, catechu, scented tobacco etc). He added that he never sells loose cigarettes. Most of his customers, who are not Pan-Kiosk owners, are habitual smokers who buy cartons or 2-3 packets of cigarettes in one go. He added that, in fact the sale of cigarette packets will only go up.
Hard time for limited smokers
While speaking to Nagpur Today, the owner of a very old Pan Kiosk situated at Coffee House Square Tiwari said that this ban on sale of loose cigarettes is not going to curtail the smokers. He claimed that now the regular or habitual smokers will buy cigarettes in packets, since one cannot quit smoking cigarettes easily. Those who had planned to reduce the cigarette smoking and have limited buying the number of cigarettes will have hard time, since if the whole packet is there in their pockets, they will be tempted to have more cigarettes.
Bans remain ineffective
Another owner of a pan-kiosk situated at Mate-Square, Mishra (Pandit ji as he is known) said that there is a ban on tobacco pouches, but aren’t they still available in the market? Imposing a ban is easy, but ensuring that the ban is carried out to the word is very difficult. We need our regular customers. We also need business. So we’ll sell it to the customer the way they need it.
Youth will find ways
Some youth who were smoking near a pan kiosk at Sitabuldi area (who preferred to be anonymous), told Nagpur Today that if a ban like this is imposed, we’ll buy a packet and then we’ll share it. They added that a smoker who is addicted to this habit will always find some way to circumvent the ban.
Another habitual smoker, while speaking to Nagpur Today on condition of anonymity said that just as an alcoholic finds ways to satiate his urge to drink, smokers too will eventually find ways of procuring and smoking cigarettes.
It’s a welcome move
Vice-Dean of Lata Mangeshkar VSPM Dental College Dr Ramakrishna Shenoi while speaking to Nagpur Today said that India is possibly the only country where cigarettes are sold on loose basis. This leads to an easy access for the youngsters to this habit. This is because, the loose cigarettes are cheaper than whole packets, it will deter them from the chance of an early addiction. Dr Shenoi also welcomed the step of the Health Ministry and called it the right step to prevent young people for getting addicted to smoking. However, he also acquiesced to the fact that it all depends of the consumption pattern of the new or novice smokers.