New Delhi: In an amendment drafted by the Central government of the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the Union Health Ministry has sought to increase the legal age for smoking or consumption of tobacco products & cigarettes to 21 from the current age of 18. The draft also seeks to prohibit selling of these products to anyone below the bar of 21 years, the Ministry informed.
Reportedly, the drafted law has been termed as Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Act, 2020.
As per reports, the provision for raising the age limit to 21 years is part of the new bill which is being piloted by the ministry. The sale of illicit products will lead to imprisonment of up to one year and even involve a fine of Rs 50,000.
Under the provisions of the new draft, "No person shall sell, offer for sale, or permit sale of, cigarette or any other tobacco product - (a) to or by any person who is under twenty-one years of age, and in an area within a radius of one hundred meters of any educational institution."
It is worth mentioning that Section 7 of the COTPA is amended to ensure proper sealing and original packing of the tobacco products. A provision is further made for individuals attempting to distribute, offer or sell any tobacco product or cigarette to 'anyone under the age of twenty one or in an area within a radius of one hundred metres of any educational institution'.
Notably, several aspects of tobacco and cigarette smoking have been brought under the umbrella of this law. The penalty for smoking in areas restricting smoking has been increased from Rs 200 to Rs 2000. Moreover, the government has also decided to come down at the illicit manufacturing of these products, quoting an amount of 1 lakh as fine and an imprisonment term for 2 years.
Through the proposed amendment of Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, the government also brings under its ambit the advertising or endorsement of any sorts of these products. In legal terms, no person or group can participate either directly or indirectly, through any medium or not, in the promotion of tobacco and other illegal products in India.