Assam became the first state to legally ban the consumption of all forms of smokeless tobacco including pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine within the State on 13 February 2014.
Taking note of the fact that smokeless tobacco accounts for 90% of oral cancers, the Act also bans the manufacture, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution and sale of the substances.
Assam’s Governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik gave his assent to the Assam Health (Prohibition of manufacturing, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution, sale and consumption of zarda, gutkha, pan masala, etc, containing tobacco and nicotine) Bill 2013 on 11 February 2014. As a result, the Bill became an Act with effect from 13 February 2014.
The Provisions of the Act
• Bans on manufacture, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution, sale of the tobacco and consumption also.
• For violating the law, one shall be punished with imprisonment up to seven years and fine between 1 lakh rupees and 5 lakh rupees.
• Consumption or possession of zarda, gutka and pan masala containing tobacco shall be punished with a fine of 1000 rupees for the first offence and 2000 rupees for each subsequent offence.
Although 28 States/UTs have banned similar bans under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. However, Assam is the first State to ban the sale of tobacco through legislature.
The Act has been enacted in accordance with the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
About Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. The Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011 came into effect from 5 August 2011.
The Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011 were issued under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which lays down that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.
Currently, 28 States/UT’s have issued orders for implementation of the Food Safety Regulations banning manufacture, sale and storage of Gutka and Pan Masala containing tobacco or nicotine. The States are Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar, Daman & Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, J&K and Assam.
Enforcement and implementation of this regulation, however, lies with the Commissioners of Food Safety under the State governments, as per the provisions of Food Safety & Standards Act 2006.
Other forms of tobacco including cigarette and bidi etc. are regulated by the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.
COPTA, 2003 regulates consumption, production, supply and distribution of tobacco products, by imposing restrictions on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products; prohibiting smoking in public places; prohibiting sale to and by minors, prohibiting sale within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions and through mandatory depiction of specified pictorial health warnings on all tobacco product packs.
Enforcement of the provisions thereof lies with the officers authorized for this purpose by the Central Government as well as State Governments.