The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the government and all the States on a public interest litigation (PIL) for a complete ban on cigarettes and beedis and stringent punishment for smokers.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman directed the government to respond on the petition showing that the country is spending approximately Rs. 30,000 crore annually in both public and private health sectors to treat tobacco-related illness.
This expenditure, the PIL said, accounts for roughly 25 per cent of public spending on health.
“And the death toll is rising as per survey various survey published by GATS, WHO and Ministry of Health,” Aditya Agarwal and Parul Singh, counsel for the PIL petitioner Sunil Rajpal, told the bench.
When the Chief Justice initially countered that it is the legislature's responsibility to make laws against tobacco use, Mr. Agarwal submitted that following a Supreme Court order in 2001, the lawmakers had passed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA) in 2003.
“But poor implementation of its provisions has led to more and more deaths every year,” Mr. Agarwal said. The petition seeks amendments in the COPTA to introduce stringent punishment to smokers.
The petition also highlights the need to ban blurred advertisements of cigarettes in movies and TV programmes “as it has very harmful effect on the young mind”.