New Delhi: As the Centre seeks to amend the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, including raising the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21 years, India’s tobacco industry has expectedly raised objections.
Besides increasing the minimum legal smoking age, the government’s draft bill proposes to ban smoking zones in hotels, restaurants and airports, as well as prohibit advertising at cigarette kiosks.
If implemented, the new law will severely hit sales of companies like ITC, Godfrey Phillips India and a unit of Philip Morris International which serve the $12 billion cigarette market in India, reports Reuters.
On Wednesday itself, ITC shares fell 3% while Godfrey dropped 1.5%.
“Some of the measures are very extreme and problematic,” an industry executive was quoted as saying by Reuters. He added that companies will raise concerns before the public consultation period of the proposal ends on January 31.
Another senior executive opined that there will be serious concerns over the impact on employment and how farmers would be affected, and added that the industry will discuss such issues with the government.
Health activists have welcomed the proposed changes, which will bar advertising at kiosks and prohibit sale of loose cigarette sticks, which form the bulk of the sales.
“It is a much needed proposal as there were some gaps previously. The key is going to be enforcement of the law once passed,” head of tobacco control at non-profit Sambandh Health Foundation Sanjay Seth was quoted as saying.