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In this blogpost, Saumya Agarwal, Student, Amity Law School, Delhi writes about laws on smoking in different states in India.

Because tobacco is responsible for an impressive one-third of cancers.” – Bernard Levin


What is tobacco?

Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. After it is picked, it is dried, ground up, and used in different ways. It can be smoked in a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It can be chewed (called smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco) or sniffed through the nose (called snuff).

Tobacco use is a risk factor for many diseases, especially those affecting the heart, liver, and lungs, as well as many cancers. In 2008, the World Health Organization named tobacco as the world’s single greatest cause of preventable death.[1]

Tobacco is used in India in many forms. Only 20% of the tobacco is used in the form of cigarettes.  The tobacco use is more varied in our country than in any other country. The traditional form of tobacco is used in the form of bidi, a hand-roller, filterless tobacco cigarette. Tobacco is also used in hookahs, as gutka, as pan masala, etc.

Smoking is banned in public places in India. According to a report submitted by World Health Organization (WHO), 12% of the world’s smokers are Indians[2]. The tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, cheroots, bidis, cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, chewing tobacco, pan masala or any chewing material having tobacco as one of its ingredients.


 Presently, smoking is governed by the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 and Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008. However, the Health Ministry is seeking to get it amended.

The Act strictly prohibits the direct or indirect advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in any form- print, electronic or hoardings. One of the major aspect that the Act covers is the ban on the sale of tobacco near the educational institutes.


The Health Ministry has put forward certain recommendations to amend the Act. Firstly, raising the minimum age of a person who is buying tobacco products from 18 years to 21 years. Secondly, it is proposed to raise the fine to Rs 1000 from Rs 200 on smoking in public places as well as recommending removal of designated smoking zones in hotels and restaurants. Also, the government seeks to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. According to a survey conducted by a leading market research firm, 70% of the cigarettes sold in India are sold in the form of loose cigarettes.[3]

These are part of the recommendations made in Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill 2015.


According to the Act, “public place” has been defined under Section 3 (l) as any place to which the public have access, whether as of right or not, and includes auditorium, hospital building, railway waiting room, amusement centers, restaurants, public offices, court buildings, educational institution, libraries, public conveyances and the like which are visited by the general public but does not include any open space.

Section 4 says “No person shall smoke in any public place: Provided that in a hotel having thirty rooms or a restaurant having a seating capacity of thirty persons or more and in the airports, a separate provision for the smoking area or space may be made.”

After reading the definition, the first thing that comes to our mind is whether smoking on roads is allowed?

According to the definition of public places stated in the Act, the roads are not included in the definition. So does the court think it is okay to smoke in the roads? What is the use of the Act when the government allows the people to smoke and increase the air pollution? If people are smoking on the roads, then it is likely that more people will become passive smokers.

Experts say that roads and pavements should be included in public places, so technically smoking in public places should be banned. The definition of a public place in the act is translucent which can be misused by the people in general so there should be clarity in the definition. Smoking on pavements affects the old, allergic/asthma people, joggers, infants, etc.

This article seeks a more unambiguous definition as there are so many lives that are affected by it. When a person smokes, it does not only harm him, but it also harms the people around him.

The states of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chhatisgarh, and Jharkhand have implemented the aforesaid provision as envisaged under FSSAI regulation (2.3.4), to enforce a ban on manufacture, sale and storage of Gutka and Pan Masala containing tobacco and nicotine, in their States.


  • Delhi-

Under the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-smoking Health Protection Act, 1996, a person should not smoke in public places, in public vehicles or public work or use. The offence is punishable with a fine which may extend to one hundred rupees and in the case of the second or subsequent offence shall be punishable with a minimum fine of two hundred rupees which may also extend to five hundred rupees.

No person should advertise in any place and any public service vehicle which may promote smoking or the sale of cigarettes and beedis, etc. Also, no person shall sell cigarettes, beedis or any other tobacco product to any child below the age of eighteen years. Further, no person shall store, sell or distribute cigarettes or beedis or any other such smoking substance within an area of one hundred metres around by college, school or educational institution. All the above offences should be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees and in the case of a second or subsequent offence shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months or with a minimum fine of five hundred rupees but may extend to one thousand rupees or both.

  • Maharashtra-

Maharashtra does not have a separate anti-smoking law. But it has Maharashtra Opium Smoking Act, whoever smokes opium shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.

  • Tamil Nadu-

The Tamil Nadu State Government has acted in a notification in 2001, banned the sale of chewing tobacco, pan masala and gutkha containing tobacco in any form, in the state in the interest of public health under Section 7(4) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. The state passed an Anti-Tobacco legislation, i.e.,., The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act, in February 2003, to provide for the prohibition of smoking and spitting in public places and public vehicles.

  • Punjab

The State Government notified the Central Act in the State Gazette in 2004.

Also, the state has set up a Tobacco Control Cell in the office of Director Health Services, Punjab. The Punjab Government has notified as a number of people to take cognizance of the matter under the Act. They are:

  • Drug Inspector Department of Health & Family Welfare at District Level.
  • Superintendent of police or his representative not below the rank of Sub-inspector at the District level.
  • Civil Surgeons of each District & Medical Superintendent of Medical Colleges and Hospitals of Patiala, Amritsar & Faridkot.
  • All Senior Medical Officers of the Civil Hospitals & Primary Health Centers in the State of Punjab.


The Haryana Government has completely banned the manufacture and sale of all the products containing tobacco in the state, The State Food and Drug Administration has also issued a notification regarding the same. Violation of the ban is punishable with imprisonment up to six months or fine up to 1 lakh rupees.

Tobacco is injurious to health. Say NO to tobacco.




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