SC issues notice to Centre, states on complete tobacco ban

Bollywood actor Sunil Rajpal petition states tobacco industry's plea that it generates revenue for government does not hold good

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Thursday 14 August 2014

image The Supreme Court of India on Thursday issued notices to central and state governments in response to a public interest petition demanding complete ban on tobacco products.

The bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said that law makers will decide on this.

Arguing on behalf of Sunil Rajpal, the petitioner who is a bollywood actor, his counsel Aditya Agrawal said in court that the money spent on the treatment of smoking-related ailments comes to around Rs 30,000 crore per year. The argument that tobacco industry brings revenue does not hold good in view of the harm it does, Agrawal argues. 

There is a ban on using tobacco products up to some extent. It began with banning its use near school premises. Later, the government also banned smoking in public places, though the order is poorly executed.

Recently, while presenting budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley increased tax on cigarettes.This was after Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, wrote to him seeking stiff taxes to deter people from smoking.

In May this year, the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in collaboration with health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO), had published a study and estimated direct and indirect costs from all diseases caused due to tobacco use, including respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. As per this study, the overall economic burden that can be attributed to such diseases in India, in the year 2011, was around Rs 1,04,000 crore. It was 12 percent more than the combined expenditure of states and the Centre on healthcare in 2011.

A comprehensive survey of tobacco consumption, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 2009−2010, says there are almost 275 million tobacco users in India (about 35 per cent of adult population). Smokeless tobacco, like zarda, khaini and gutkha, depending on the region, is the primary form of tobacco consumed (26 per cent of adults in India), followed by smoking tobacco (14 per cent of adults in India).

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