The Supreme Court on Thursday took strong exception to the Bombay High Court’s ‘interim order’ seven years ago that paved the way for publicising and advertising health hazard addictive tobacco products, despite a complete ban imposed on their publicity under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
“There is total frustration of an Act framed in public interest,” the top court remarked when counsel Prashant Bhushan sought lifting of the stay on the operation of the law by an interim order seven years ago.
Judges expressed surprise that the interim orders were continuing for the last so many years. A bench led by Justice GS Singhvi issued notices to the Centre and six tobacco traders of Maharashtra on whose lawsuit the Bombay High Court had passed the interim order.
NGO Health for Millions says in a lawsuit that the top court and various high courts have issued specific directions for implementation of provisions of the 2003 Act keeping in mind the larger interests of the society and minors.
At least 10lakh people die in India due to tobacco consumption in its various forms and it is also responsible for 40% of non-communicable diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases and lung disorders. But the Bombay High Court ignored these aspects while passing the interim order, Bhushan said, and referred to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India Report 2010 which stated that about 35% of adults (15 years and above) in India use tobacco in some form or the other.