Bengaluru: Despite a ban on sale of loose cigarettes and other tobacco products imposed by the state government, most vendors and tea stall owners in the city continue to flout it, claiming that it would affect their business.
Rathnamma, a shop owner near Abbigere said, “I run a small shop and my family is dependent on whatever I earn. If I stop selling loose cigarettes, how will they get anything? People ask for loose cigarettes and I have no option but to comply. It is a question of my livelihood.”
The ban was introduced under Section 7, 8 and 9 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) – 2003 across the State by the Karnataka Government on September 11, 2017.
Some of the shopkeepers are not even aware of the ban. “I have been hearing that they will ban selling of loose cigarettes, but I am not sure whether it has come into effect," said Seetu, a shop owner near M.S. Ramaiah Layout.
He said that selling of loose cigarettes was fetching more money than other things like snacks and even tea. According to the State government notification, loose sale of cigarettes, beedis and all other forms of chewable tobacco is prohibited. “Any person found violating the law will be punished as per the provisions under the Section 20 of COTPA Act,” the letter had stated.
Rudresh, a resident of Mathikere, who smokes regularly, said, “The government might have banned for good cause, but if we buy the full pack, people like me will tend to smoke more when there are more cigarettes in hand. Buying loose cigarettes is also economical.”
The decision to ban sale of loose cigarettes and other tobacco products was taken together by the state anti-tobacco cell and the Department of Health and Family Welfare.
Sources from the Department of Health and Family Welfare said that the ban is in the initial stage and they are trying to educate shop owners about it. “This will take some time. Once it’s properly implemented, people who are violating the ban will be imprisoned for up to one year or a sum of Rs 1,000 fine will be imposed on such shop owners," the source added.