India Plans Ban on Public Smoking
NEW DELHI, India (AP) - India's government drew up a bill Tuesday to ban smoking in public places and forbid tobacco advertising in a push to reduce smoking in a country that sees a million tobacco-related deaths a year.
The bill, approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, would also ban the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people below the age of 18, Cabinet spokesman Pramod Mahajan said.
It would also bar tobacco companies from sponsoring sports and cultural events
Around a third of the world's 3 million tobacco-related deaths a year are in India, a country of around one billion people, the Cabinet said in a statement. At least 55 countries have laws to discourage tobacco consumption and 21 have imposed bans on tobacco advertising, it said.
``This is being done to protect nonsmokers from the hazards of passive smoking. It would also help to discourage adolescents from consuming tobacco products,'' a Cabinet statement said.
The Cabinet will present the bill to Parliament when its next session begins Feb. 19.
Medical treatment for people in India suffering from tobacco-related diseases costs $2.9 billion per year, much more than what is earned from the sale of all tobacco products, Mahajan said.
The proposed bill would also require tobacco companies to indicate nicotine and tar contents on cigarette packages. Similar requirements have been passed by 19 other countries, the Cabinet said.
Tobacco companies were not immediately available for comment on the proposed legislation.
Shares of India's largest tobacco company, India Tobacco Co., fell 1.86 percent Tuesday, while those of Godfrey Philips, another tobacco maker, slid 5.76 percent.