A landmark ban on smoking in public places has been declared a success, but could be disastrous for companies that want to stay in business.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled on Friday that the new state law was necessary to tackle the menace of tobacco addiction and called on the government to review the plan to ban all forms of smoking.
The ruling comes in the face of public opposition to the proposal.
The ban will be enforced for three months starting from August 1.
According to an NDTV report, the ban will affect only “the tobacco industry”, including cigarette manufacturers and retailers.
“In our opinion, the proposal to ban smoking in every corner of the country is a serious infringement on the right of individuals to be free from harmful effects of tobacco,” Justice P.S. Raman told the NGT, which was set up in 2013 by the then BJP government.
In the first phase of the ban, the tobacco companies have been given 60 days to prove they had complied with the new law.
They have until August 15 to do so.
If they fail to comply, the government can also impose a fine of up to $1,000 on the company and/or its director for violating the law.
Tobacco companies are also required to spend about 10% of their profits on rehabilitation programs.
Tests to detect tobacco addiction will also be mandatory.
The NGT has also set up a panel of experts to evaluate the impact of the new measure.
India’s government has said the ban is necessary to combat tobacco addiction, but the country’s largest cigarette maker said it would appeal against the decision.
Cigarette makers, retailers and other stakeholders had previously argued that the ban would cost jobs, increase costs and hurt the competitiveness of the Indian tobacco industry.
Earlier this year, the NTC issued a preliminary ruling that banned smoking in all public places except the home, except in cases of public health emergency.
A spokesperson for the tobacco industry in India told NDTV that the companies are disappointed with the ruling.
“Our members are very happy that the NLT has declared a win for the common man, and we are sure the government will reconsider this decision,” said Arun Kumar, spokesperson for Philip Morris India.
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