The Union Health Ministry has re-initiated the process of amending the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in a bid to strengthen its provisions, including a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes and heavy fine for violation of rules.
The aim is to make it more effective and more inclined to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) guidelines, sources said. Currently, the penalty for smoking in restricted areas is up to Rs 200.
The ministry had proposed a number of amendments to the 2003 legislation and put the draft Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill in the public domain in 2015.
"However, it was withdrawn in 2017 to have a re-look at the draft provisions and come up with a better version. We are reviving the entire process of redrafting it," one of the sources said.
The earlier draft proposed increasing the fine amount to Rs 1,000, doing away with on-site advertising of tobacco products and removing designated smoking areas from hotels, restaurants and airports.
A Nasha Mukti Abhiyan Task Force was constituted with the health secretary as its chairperson and additional secretary and mission director (National Health Mission) as its vice chairperson to formulate a detailed preventive and promotive care strategy for addressing tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse last year.
The National Health Policy 2017 of the Indian government identifies coordinated action on "addressing tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse" as one of the seven priority areas as outlines for improving the environment for health, the sources said.
The first meeting of the Nasha Mukti Abhiyan Task Force was held on June 7, 2018 after which three working groups on preventive aspects, regulatory mechanisms and curative aspects were constituted to formulate strategy for the de-addiction drive.
The working group on regulatory mechanisms is analysing the existing provisions of the legislation for amending it, the sources said.