Punjab to forestall move to launch smaller cigarette packs

Chandigarh, Aug 6 (IANS) The Punjab government will forestall any move by the tobacco industry to launch smaller packs containing one or two cigarettes to circumvent the ban on sale of loose cigarettes, a health officer said on Thursday.

Vini Mahajan, Punjab’s principal secretary for health and family welfare, has asked the food supplies department to ensure that tobacco companies are not able to launch smaller packs.

The move by the tobacco industry follows a recent ban imposed on the sale of loose cigarettes by the Punjab government. The ban was imposed to bring down tobacco consumption in Punjab, Mahajan said.

“Due to less cost of these packs, they are easily available to young consumers and by not allowing these packs, age of initiation of tobacco can be delayed. Punjab is the first state in India to ban the sale of loose cigarettes (as single sticks),” she said.

Mahajan said the state’s tobacco control cell has been passionately pursuing the agenda to bring down tobacco consumption in Punjab and banning of loose cigarettes was a step in that direction.

Health Minister Surjeet Kumar Jiyani said strict action would be taken against those violating the ban on sale of loose cigarettes.

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