Banning loose cigarette sale-a bold supply side measure by State Government of Himachal Pradesh in India to decrease tobacco use
 
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1
Directorate of Health Service, India
2
National Health Mission, NCD, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A606
 
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ABSTRACT
Background and challenges to implementation:
Sale and use of loose cigarettes (also called singles or loosies) is widely acknowledged as a driver of the smoking epidemic in India. In Himachal Pradesh (HP) state (Population: 7 million) in India, more than 70% of cigarettes were sold as loosies. Following a high level of compliance to smokefree rules, State was declared smoke free in 2013, but an easy access, affordability and availability of cigarette as singles was a challenge for smoke free public places. Besides this, loose cigarette market neutralises four important tobacco control strategies-protecting minors, pictorial warnings, support quitting and effective taxation.

Intervention or response:
Tobacco control advocates presented the facts to health department to ban sale of loose cigarettes and beedies in larger public health interest. Public support was garnered through a opinion poll and media coverage. Major advocacy efforts were done with senior government officials, legislators and state Health Minister.

Results and lessons learnt:
State legislative assembly in October 2016 passed the draft bill “The Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Sale of Loose Cigarettes and Beedies Act, 2016” and HP became the first state in India to ban sale of singles through legislation. Enforcement officials also notified. Legislation has a provision of major penalty in case of violations by the vendors. As anticipated, tobacco industry opposed the legislation from road to civil secretariat though tobacco vendors who acted their frontal groups. Government overlooked their opposition and issued directions to authorities to ensure implementation. Although this is half battle won. Cigarettes are still sold as singles by few vendors due to sub-optimal law enforcement.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
State took a bold step to ban the sale of cigarette and beedies as singles; this will have long lasting impact on reduction in tobacco use. However, it is high time for the state to activate the enforcement mechanism to ensure 100% compliance.

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