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Tobacco sale to minors: 7 yrs jail, ‘1 lakh fine

Mumbai : Anyone selling tobacco products to minors can now end up serving a seven year jail term and coughing up Rs one lakh in fine. This is one of the new provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 which came into effect on Friday.

The law called Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 prohibits the sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products to people below 18 years and in areas within a 100-metre radius of educational institutions. The penalty for violation, however, is not stringent and entails a fine of Rs 200 and up to three months in jail.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel, said, “With this Act, India has become the only nation in the world to impose such a harsh penalty for selling tobacco to minors. It will save our future generations from this lethal habit. It is proven beyond doubt that tobacco kills every third user prematurely through cancer, heart disease and stroke.”

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, the age of initiation of tobacco habits in India is 17 years. According to a Global Youth Tobacco survey, up to 20 percent of children

in India are users of tobacco. Further, nearly 27.5 crore Indians are using tobacco and a vast majority of them pick their habit in childhood and more than 5500 children /adolescents start tobacco consumption daily, informs Dr Chaturvedi.

Dr PC Gupta, Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, Navi Mumbai, said, “Everyone in this world, including the tobacco industry, agrees that tobacco products are not meant for and should not be used by children. Yet most tobacco users started their tobacco use when they were children.”

Sanjay Seth, chief operating officer of Voice of Tobacco Victims, campaign said, “Almost every country, including India, has laws banning sale of tobacco products to minors. This law however, has been very difficult to enforce. In India, most points of sale do not even exhibit the notice about not allowing sale to minors along with a photo of mouth cancer patient as mandated by law. There are monetary fines for violations and they are miniscule. Also, offenders are very difficult to catch.”

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