Maharashtra government has banned the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis


The Maharashtra government has banned the sale of loose cigarettes and beedis, to reduce the consumption of tobacco and to comply with the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003.

The government’s aim is to make sure that users are able to see the mandated warnings on cigarette packaging. Under COTPA, tobacco products need to be sold with graphic health warnings on their packaging and loose cigarettes do not comply with this rule. Section 7 of the Act mentions, no person shall, directly or indirectly, produce, supply or distribute 6 cigarettes or any other tobacco products unless every package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products produced, supplied or distributed by him bears thereon, or on its label. The Act also mentions that the warning should be specified on not less than one of the largest panels of the packet in which the cigarettes or any other tobacco products have been packed for distribution, sale and supply.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-2017, which was a household survey conducted on over 74,000 people aged 15 years or more.
Maharashtra has the lowest prevalence of tobacco smoking in the country. Over 91% of current smokers in the country believe that smoking causes serious illness. 10.7% of all adults (99.5 million) in India smoke tobacco. 28.6% of all adults use tobacco either in smoke or smokeless form.  In India, for a daily cigarette smoker around Rs 1,100 and that for a daily beedi smoker is estimated to be around Rs 284. The survey also showed that 68% of smokers, 17% bidi smokers, and 50% of smokeless tobacco users in India purchase. As per the Tobacco Free Union, over 1 million people die from tobacco-related diseases in India every year.

The effectiveness of bans is not well known and depends on how widespread and stringent the implementation is. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the Scientific Society, raising tax on tobacco products is one of the key ways of controlling tobacco consumption.  While on one hand making tobacco products dearer may lead to an overall decrease in consumption of tobacco globally, on the other hand, it can lead to an increase in the sale of loose cigarettes.

Governments adopt and implement the tobacco control provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).It is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO. India ratified the WHO FCTC in 2004. It was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The FCTC’s measures to combat tobacco use include:

There is a need for comprehensive tobacco control policy, accessible and affordable cessation services strengthening the implementation of COTPA, alternative opportunities for people engaged in tobacco cultivator, processing and manufacturing. The proportion of buying loose cigarettes decreased with increased levels of education and awareness. Enhancing public awareness through campaigns, educational programs in schools, strong and prominent graphic health warnings.