--Indo-Asian News service"
New Delhi, Aug 14 - The Supreme Court Thursday issued notices to the Centre, states and union territories on a PIL seeking a complete ban on the production of cigarettes and other tobacco products across the country.
An apex court bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the issue of banning the production of cigarettes and other tobacco products was for the lawmakers to decide.
It is for the law makers to decide, observed Chief Justice Lodha.
Counsel Aditya Agrawal, appearing for the petitioner filmmaker Sunil Rajpal, told the court that the money spent on the treatment of smoking-related ailments comes to Rs.30,000 crore per annum which flies in the face of revenue earning arguments offered by the government for not banning the tobacco industry.
Aditya Agrawal told the court that in 2001 the apex court noting the adverse effect of smoking on smokers and passive smokers had prohibited smoking in public place till the statutory provision was made and implemented by the legislative enactment.
Assisted by advocates Rahul Kumar and Parul Singh, Agrawal told the court that in 2003 parliament enacted a law 'The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003' which proved to be ineffective as it was toothless.
Referring to the report by the World Health Organisation, Agrawal said that more than one million lives get extinguished in India every year because of smoking.
He said that according to WHO, in 2030 India would have the highest numbers of deaths from ailments on account of smoking.
The petitioner said the entire issue involved the fundamental right to life guaranteed under the constitution as he pointed to the ill effects of smoking on smoker and non-smoker and the environment.
The petitioner said the government had made laws to safeguard people from harmful effects of smoking but somewhere there is a lack of implementation resulting in violation of laws with impunity.
The only unsuspected victims of these violation of laws are innocent people, especially impressionable minds of children, who easily get carried away seeing people smoking and get into the habit initially imitating others, he said.
--Indo-Asian News service