Battle for Tobacco Control – India (Part 2)

We have already discussed the journey of India where it had a pro tobacco stance to an anti tobacco stance. It requires a lot determination and grit to ignore the economic benefits of tobacco and take a stance that deters the use of tobacco and discourages commerce in tobacco crop and various products. In this article we discuss the measures taken by the Central Government in order to control tobacco.

The result of multiple forces working to have stricter anti tobacco laws in the country has resulted in various measures that have been introduced at the central level and by certain state governments. Not only are these efforts of the Central Government to check the menace of tobacco but these are also your rights to enjoy a smoke free and a healthy environment. Read on to become aware of your rights.

Major efforts of the Central Government are discussed below in detail:

  • Protection of Non-Smokers from secondary smoke

In 1990, the Government issued a directive prohibiting smoking at places where a large number of people are present for a long period. Examples of such places are hospitals and other health care establishments, educational institutions, domestic air flights, air conditioned sleeper coaches in trains and buses.

In addition a direction has been passed that in no smoking areas there will be no ashtrays and cigarette shops and necessary notices be placed indicating that smoking is prohibited in a specific property[1].

  • Ban on Tobacco related advertisementsimages (8)

A ban was placed on direct advertisements related to tobacco on national television, radio and other such agencies controlled by state governments.

  • Ban on sale of tobacco from places near educational institutions.

The Central Government advised the State Governments to discourage sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products near and around educational institutions.images (5)

  • Statutory warning on tobacco packaging

Placing of a statutory warning on packaging of cigarettes and other tobaccoimages (6) products was made mandatory. This was also made applicable on chewing tobacco which is quite commonly used in the country. Stipulations regarding how the warning has to be placed have been discussed in detail in the earlier article.  Chewing tobacco is a food item and hence covered by Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1955. Provisions of the same were used for placing a health warning on the packets[2].

  • Ban on manufacture and Sale of Toothpastes and Toothpowders containing tobacco

It was early as 1992 that the Central Government placed a ban on the manufacture and sale of toothpastes, toothpowders that contain tobacco. This was brought under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940[3].

  • Ban on scenes in movies that encourage, justify or glamorize the consumption of tobacco

 In the last month of 1991, the Central Government issued instructions toimages (7) the Board of Film Certification to take efforts to curb exhibiting scenes that glamorized, justified or encouraged the use of tobacco or smoking. These instructions were issued under the Cinematograph Act, 1952[4].

  • Ban on advertisements that promoted production and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In the September of the year 2000, the Central Government once again took some concrete action to promote its anti-tobacco stand. Direct and indirect advertisements related to production, sale and consumption of tobacco and other products using tobacco was banned on cable television. This required amendments to be made to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1994.

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The amendments prescribed imprisonment extending upto 2 years or fine upto Rs.1000 or both for first time offenders and imprisonment upto 5 years and a fine upto Rs.5000 for every subsequent offence[5].

  • Ban on sale of cigarettes and beedis on railway platforms and in trains

A very important step in this direction was taken by the Ministry of Railways. A ban was placed on the sale of cigarettes and beedis on railway platforms and passenger trains as early as the year 1999[6].

  • Ban on sale of gutka on railway platforms and in trains

Another step in this direction by the Ministry of Railways was banning of sale of gutka on railway stations, in trains and at reservations centers in the year 2001. Though done with intention of better maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene at these places, it has served as a double edged sword  [7]


[1] Government of India. Cabinet Secretariat O.M 27/1/3/90-Cab dated 7 May, 1990, regarding prohibition of tobacco smoking in public places.

[2] Government of India. Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, and rules framed there under.

[3]Government of India. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and rules framed there under.

[4] Government of India. Cinematograph Act, 1952.

[5] Government of India. Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and rules framed there under.

[6] Government of India. Ministry of Railway.s circular No. 97/TG.III/600 dated 12 April, 1999.

[7] Government of India. Ministry of Railway.s circulars No. 99/TG.III/600/6 dated 4 July, 2001.

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  • A lawyer by profession, social worker and a fighter against cancer