The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the centre and state governments on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to ban smoking products in the country. The apex court has asked the law enforcement agencies to implement the notice strictly.
There is already a ban on selling cigarettes near educational institutions and to those under the age of 18 years.
Smoking in public places was prohibited nationwide from 2 October 2008 under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India is home to 12% of the world's smokers. Approximately 900,000 people die every year in India due to smoking.
Earlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in his bid to discourage smoking among youths, had urged states and Union Territories to impose VAT of at least 50% on all tobacco products to "make them less affordable". Vardhan's communique to states comes soon after his request to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to effect a hike in prices of tobacco products in this year's budget. These steps will go a long way in discouraging tobacco use among the youth, Vardhan has reportedly said. In his letter to Chief Ministers, Vardhan has used the example of Rajasthan where VAT (value-added tax) on tobacco products stands at 60%.