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Across Pune, ‘fair price’ hoardings promoting cigarette sales in shops

Section 7/8 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act prohibits sale of loose cigarettes/ bidis

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
August 9, 2016 1:30:19 am
cigarette sales pune, pune cigarette  shops, cigarette sales, paan shops pune, paan shops, latest new, latest pune news, ANURADHA MASCARENHAS In white and blue, the hoardings highlight ‘Fair Price Shop’ and then display the cost of a loose cigarette that ranges from Rs 8 to Rs 13. (Express Photo by Sandeep Daundkar)

Several paan shop owners are upset over the manner in which small hoardings have prominently been set up at their shops across the city and boldly display the prices of loose cigarettes.

In white and blue, the hoardings highlight ‘Fair Price Shop’ and then display the cost of a loose cigarette that ranges from Rs 8 to Rs 13.

Appalled at the manner in which certain tobacco manufacturers are allegedly compelling the paan shop owners to either set up these hoardings or putting these fixtures outright without informing them, the Maharashtra Paan Vyapari Mahasangh and its Pune branch have decided to approach the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other authorities for immediate action.

At Koregaon Park, Tulsiram Yadav, owner of Tulsi paan shop, is angry over how a hoarding has been displayed outside his shop. “I had just gone out for a while and returned to find a hoarding displaying the rate of each cigarette. The manufacturer has not displayed their name but have warned us against its removal,” Yadav said.

Hemang Shah, technical advisor of the Maharashtra Paan Vyapari Mahasangh told The Indian Express, that the paan shop owner is not the culprit. The paan shop owner does not get any profit by selling a loose cigarette and would want to sell an entire pack of 10 to 20 cigarettes, Shah added. There are five-and-a-half lakh paan shop owners across the state, 45,000 in Pune district and 18,000 in Pune city.

“Not only have these hoardings been put at several paan shops but the tobacco manufacturing companies have even targeted the small grocers (kirana shops) to display the prices of loose cigarettes. Surely, this will attract the students and youth and immediate action needs to be taken,” Shah said.

Sharad More, President of Pune Paan Shop owners’ association too lashed out at this move and said several hoardings have been displayed across Hadapsar, Aundh, Hinjewadi and even Pimpri Chinchwad. “Sale of loose cigarettes is not allowed but a majority of consumers prefer to buy loose ones. It is our loss as sale of one cigarette means we cannot sell the packet,” he said.

‘COTPA Section 7/8 prohibiting sale of loose cigarettes yet to be enforced’

EVEN AS sale of loose cigarettes/bidis should be prohibited as it violates Section 7/8 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act COTPA, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon and in-charge of the Voice of Tobacco victims, said that it has not been enforced till now. “Nearly two third of the sale of cigarettes and bidis is in the form of loose sticks. Loose sale encourages sale of tobacco products especially to children and increases susceptibility of minors buying tobacco products. The tobacco industry looks for tapping new consumers, with special attention on young children. Sale of loose cigarettes and bidis is one such established marketing strategy of the tobacco industry to promote its sale,” Chaturvedi said.

“As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2009, 14.6% of the youth in the age group of 13-15 years in India consume tobacco in some form or the other. More than 5,500 children/adolescents consume tobacco daily,” Chaturvedi said.

Getting tough on sale of loose cigarettes 

The legal Metrology department that is the controlling authority has already sent warning letters in February this year to 27 manufacturers of cigarettes and bidis across the state directing them to comply with the amended Legal Metrology Act that was notified in May 2015.

Amitabh Gupta, Controller of Legal Metrology, Maharashtra told The Indian Express that as per the amended Act, no tobacco product can be sold without mandatory display as prescribed by the Act. This means that no loose cigarettes or bidis can be sold.

“However, instead of registering an offence against each and every paan shop owner, we decided to tackle the manufacturers and hence, have directed them to comply with the Act,” Gupta said.

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