With an objective to strengthen the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the Union Health Ministry is mulling to increase the legal age for tobacco consumption from 18 to 21 years.
A legal sub-group constituted by the ministry for suggesting legal reforms for tobacco control held its meeting recently and has submitted its recommendations to the ministry.
The committee, besides increasing the legal age of tobacco consumption, has also recommended increasing the fine amount for violation of rules and introducing a provision of tracking and tracking mechanism to check illicit trade of cigarette and tobacco products, an official said.
According to The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS2), the mean age at initiation of tobacco use has increased from 17.9 years in GATS1 to 18.9 years, the official said.
Mostly, people take up smoking as young adults especially late in schools or colleges.
Youths in the age group of 18 to 21 are susceptible to start smoking mostly due to peer pressure or fashion statement and are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry.
“Under this system, at the manufacturing point, a bar code would be put on tobacco products to help enforcement agencies determine whether it is legal for which proper taxes have been paid,” the official said.
The ministry is also contemplating increasing the penalty for smoking in restricted areas which currently is up to Rs 200.
COTPA prohibits smoking in public places, sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products within a hundred yards of educational institutions and sale of any tobacco product to those below 18.