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    Smoking

    Smoking in public places like restaurants, public transport, or places of education is illegal in India. It’s okay to smoke in completely open spaces like roads, and also in private places like your own house. The law also bans selling tobacco and cigarettes to people under 18 as well as advertising tobacco and cigarettes. It is also illegal to sell cigarettes that do not comply with the rules and regulations of warnings on labels.

    Selling Cigarettes

    There are some prohibitions and restrictions when it comes to selling cigarettes. It is illegal to

    • sell cigarettes or tobacco products to people under 18
    • sell cigarettes or tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution

    If you are caught selling cigarettes to minors (under 18), a police officer can detain you. You may also be taken to the Magistrate after you are detain. You will be punished with a fine up to Rs. 200.

    Smoking in a Public Place

    Smoking in public buildings like a restaurant, theatre, healthcare institutions or public transport is not allowed and is a crime. You are allowed to smoke in completely open spaces like roads or parks, however it is still illegal to smoke in places like bus stops, railway stations or open auditoriums. You can smoke in designated smoking areas. Under this law, hotels (with more than 30 rooms), airports, or restaurants (which can seat more than 30 people) can create a separate smoking area where smokers can smoke.

    If you are caught smoking in a public place, a police officer can detain you. You will be punished with a maximum fine of Rs. 200.

    Owner’s responsibilities

    Under the rules created under this Act, the owner of a public place must display a warning board at the entrance of the public place and inside. The board must be a minimum of 60 cm by 30 cm.

    Advertising Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

    You must not advertise cigarettes or other tobacco products, even if you are offered money to do so. This also means that you must not advertise the brand name of companies selling cigarettes and tobacco products for sponsorship. The first time you are caught advertising cigarettes or tobacco products, you will be imprisoned upto 2 years and/or will pay fine upto Rs. 1000. After the first time, you will be imprisoned upto 5 years and will pay fine upto Rs. 5000

    Where tobacco products are sold, a warning board containing 'Tobacco Causes Cancer' or 'Tobacco Kills' must be displayed. No brand promotion is allowed on such board. This does not apply if the advertisement is on:

    • The package selling tobacco or cigarettes;
    • The shop where tobacco or cigarettes are available.

    Warning Labels on Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

    All cigarette and tobacco products must:

    • Have a warning on their label, which may include a photographic warning. The details of the size of warnings in the labels are found in the rules, which are summarised here.
    • This warning must be on the biggest side of the package.
    • The nicotine and tar contents of the product is visible on the package.
    • The maximum limit of nicotine and tar allowed is visible on the package and the nicotine and tar amount in the tobacco must not exceed the allowed amount.
    • The warning on the tobacco product should be readable and clear as well as bold and visible.
    • The warning on the package must be in all the languages used on the packaging. Where a foreign language is used on the package, the warning must be in English.

    If you produce the products without warnings, then you can go to jail for upto 2 years or will have to pay fine of Rs. 5,000. When caught a second time, you can go to jail for 5 years or will have to pay fine of Rs. 10,000. If you sell cigarettes without warnings, you can be sent to jail for upto 1 year, or you may have to pay fine upto Rs.1,000 if it was your first offence. When caught a second time, you may go to jail for 2 years, or will pay fine upto Rs. 3,000.

    Seizure of Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

    Any police officer or officer of State Food and Drug Administration or any officer authorised by the Central Government who is above the Sub-Inspector rank may enter and search the premises of any location where the advertisement of cigarettes and tobacco products takes place or where buying and selling of cigarettes and tobacco products are happening.

    Punishment for Companies

    As actions like advertising tobacco products can be committed by companies, the company will directly be prosecuted for committing offenses pertaining to smoking. In addition, the people in charge of the company at the time of the advertising can be prosecuted. Such people will have to prove that they did not know about the illegal actions committed by the company. If any officer of the company was directly involved, they can be prosecuted as individuals as well.

    Appeal

    You can always appeal any decision made by a court regarding violations of The Cigarettes And Other Tobacco Products Act. Additional evidence may be taken when the Appeal is heard. When an Appeal is made, the fine amount cannot be increased unless you have been heard in person or by a representative. It is important to note that you can only appeal once.

    Questions and Answers
    Click on a question to view the answer

    Yes, any police officer, or officer of State Food & Drug Administration or any officer authorised by the Central Government who is above the Sub-Inspector Rank may enter and search the premises of any location where:

    • Advertisement of cigarettes & tobacco products takes place
    • Trade of cigarettes & tobacco products is carried out

    Yes, police officers can seize cigarettes/tobacco products when they believe that provisions of The Cigarettes And Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement And Regulation Of Trade And Commerce, Production, Supply And Distribution) Act, 2003 are violated. However, they may not hold the cigarettes/tobacco for more than 90 days without approval of the District Judge.

    Yes, but you must be given notice before such an Order is made. Instead of the confiscation, the Court may allow you to pay the costs of the goods seized. The Officers will then return the seized packages to you. The Court can order confiscation of packages or ask you to pay costs without any limit to the cost unless the Central Government notifies a limit.

    Yes, if you produce the products, then you can go to jail for up to 2 years or will have to pay fine of Rs. 5,000. When caught a second time, you can go to jail for 5 years or will have to pay fine of Rs. 10,000.

    Yes. The first time, for up to 1 year, or you may have to pay fine up to Rs. 1000. When caught a second time, you may go to jail for 2 years or will pay fine up to Rs. 3000.

    Nothing in this Act applies to cigarette and tobacco products which are exported. However, all exported products must comply with requirements of the foreign country.

    Glossary
    Advertisement
    Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. With respect to advertising smoking, any of the following can be considered to be an advertisement: A Notice, A Circular, A Label, A Wrapper, A television commercial, A billboard sign, Any Announcements
    Cigarette
    Anything covering a roll of tobacco is considered to be a cigarette. It does not matter if the covering contains tobacco or not. As long as people a roll of tobacco calling it a cigarette, it will be considered a cigarette. Beedi, cheerot and cigar are not considered to be cigarettes
    Specified Warning
    A specified warning is a warning against the use of cigarettes or tobacco products. It is to be printed, painted or shown on packages of cigarettes or any other tobacco products.
    Tobacco Products
    Cigarettes, Cigars, Cheroots, Beedis, Cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, Chewing tobacco, Snuff, Pan masala, or any chewable item containing tobacco, Gutka, Tooth powder containing tobacco
    Public Place
    A public place is any place that can be visited by the public except open spaces like a regular park.