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Government to Toughen Its Anti-smoking Laws

The Union Cabinet on Friday decided to toughen anti-smoking laws, restricting smoking in public places and advertisement of tobacco products .

The Cabinet further approved a Health and Family Welfare Ministry proposal for amending the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products 2003 Act in the first week of the monsoon session of the Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in New Delhi.

Dasmunshi further said that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry would support the government's anti-smoking drive by ensuring checks on media content that might encourage smoking.

A vigorous anti-tobacco campaign would be launched from October 2.

From the 2nd of October, I am trying to take initiative that all theatre houses in India and all the possible expositions in the campaign- in films in ads and others-follow a very aggressive anti-smoking drive, highlighting its danger throughout the country," said Dasmunsi.

A bid by the ministry to enforce a ban on smoking scenes in films last year met with stiff opposition from filmmakers. A blanket ban is yet to come into effect.

The Health Ministry has also been trying to stipulate a pictorial warning on all tobacco products. Manufacturers say the proposed skull-and-crossbone illustration is too graphic.

A new illustration would be decided soon, Dasmunsi said.

The Cabinet also approved a Health Ministry proposal for amendment of laws governing administration of the elite All India Institute of Medical Sciences, citing 'anarchy' in management.

"The Cabinet agreed that the kind of anarchy going in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi requires certain specific amendments. The Health Minister's proposal has been highly accepted and we stand by him," Dasmunsi said.

The tobacco law, in its present form prohibits smoking in buses, restaurants and trains, also prohibits mass media advertising of tobacco products except at selling points.

It also bars sale of tobacco products to a persons below 18 years of age.


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