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75% of all cigarettes in India are sold loose

75% of all cigarettes in India are sold loose

A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention claims that 75% of all cigarettes sold in India are single sticks

A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention claims that 75% of all cigarettes sold in India are single sticks. It also amounts a total value of close to 30% of the Rs 35,000 crore India market.

While the government is still contemplating the ban on single cigarettes as well as raising the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21, to induce stringent measures to curb smoking; this study, the first of its kind to estimate the size of the single cigarettes in India, also says that loose cigarettes neutralise the effect of pack warnings and effective taxation, making tobacco more accessible and affordable to minors.

The survey was conducted in February 2014 by 10 authors to estimate the sale of cigarettes in packs and sticks, by brands and price over a full business day.  Smoking of cigarettes, bidis and other smoked forms of tobacco are the single largest cause of preventable death among adults in India with more than 1.2 million dying annually.

The sale of single cigarettes, which is not in the interest of public health, is an important factor for early experimentation, initiation and persistence of tobacco use, says the study.

“Based on the data collected from 10 jurisdictions, we estimate that nearly 75 percent (59-87 percent) of all cigarettes are sold as single sticks,” says the study, published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.

The study was conducted under the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease across 10 cities – Agartala, Baroda, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Indore, Jaipur, Jorhat, Patna and Shimla. It recommends that the Indian government ban the sale of single cigarettes and eliminate “kiddy packs”. (The ban does exist but is observed more in breach than in practice.)  “Under the tobacco control legislation in India, each tobacco product has to bear a specified pictorial health warning. But the single cigarette sales defy the overall purpose,” study co-investigator Ravinder Kumar told IANS.

“The single cigarette sale is a win-win game for the tobacco industry, but not in the interest of public health,” said Kumar, a consultant with the World Health Organization’s tuberculosis programme and based in Shimla.

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    Source: IANS

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