Health Ministry plans to increase legal age for tobacco consumption from 18 to 21 years
New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry is mulling to increase the legal age for tobacco consumption from 18 to 21 years as part of its efforts to strengthen the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA).
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 (GATS 2), 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.
“Increasing the legal age to 21 would bring down the number of youngsters taking to tobacco every year drastically. Even parents will not be able to send their children aged below 21 to shops for buying these products,” 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 products to those below 18.