Stressing that herbal cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco ones, the Delhi government's health department has written to industry lobby FICCI to close a stall at the ongoing 'International Arogya 2017' exhibition here. The exhibition on AYUSH and wellness systems is being organised by FICCI in collaboration with the Ministry of AYUSH, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil). In his letter to FICCI, Additional Director (Health) Dr S K Arora said the State Tobacco Control Cell visited the exhibition yesterday and found a stall selling and promoting cigarettes claiming to be herbal in nature. This, he said, was a violation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). "You are requested to immediately close this stall, stop the sale and promotion of cigarettes and also communicate why this stall was allotted to a company which sells cigarettes," the letter read. Arora added that herbal cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes because any vegetable matter that is burnt produces tar, carbon monoxide and other toxins. While breathing, these harmful toxins directly get into the lungs and also expose others to second hand smoking, he said. "FICCI being the organizing team is requested to communicate how the permission to sell and promote cigarettes in the international medical conference which is also being a public place, has been granted," the letter read. Arora also pointed to other violations, including display of cigarettes at the counter and a person promoting cigarettes in the stall with a display board on his back. According to the letter, there was no mandatory board stating that tobacco sale is prohibited to those below the age of 18. "Also, the stall was distributing free samples for trial.
There are no health warnings on the packet," the letter stated. The vendor refused to show the relevant papers or hand over samples for analysis when asked by the department's team, it said. Arora added in his letter that the vendor neither signed the 'challan' nor accepted it. The vendor could not produce a valid GMP (good manufacturing practices) certificate either. "FICCI has become party to this violation by allotting the stall to a cigarette seller in International Medical Conference exhibition," the letter stated.
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