India’s tobacco control regulations and laws are regarded as leading globally with many  initiative methods of tobacco control. With the growing evidence of harmful and hazardous effects of tobacco, the Government of India enacted various legislations and comprehensive tobacco control measures.

The Government enacted the Cigarettes Act (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) in 1975. The statutory warning “cigarette smoking is injurious to health” was mandatorily displayed on all cigarette packages, cartons and advertisements of cigarettes. Some states like Maharashtra and Karnataka restricted smoking in public places. In the case of Maharashtra, specification of the size of boards in English and Marathi were prescribed, declaring certain premises as smokefree. Tobacco smoking was prohibited in all health care establishments, educational institutions, domestic flights, air-conditioned coaches in trains, suburban trains and air-conditioned buses, through a Memorandum issued by the Cabinet Secretariat in 1990. Since these were mainly Government or administrative orders, they lacked the power of a legal instrument. Without clear enforcement guidelines and awareness of the citizens to their right to smoke-free air, the implementation of this directive remained largely ineffective.


Youth led anti tobacco campaign. (The Gradian, 2011)

Under the Chairmanship of Shri Amal Datta, the Committee on Subordinate Legislation in November 1995 recommended to the Ministry of Health to enact legislation to protect non-smokers from second hand smoke. In addition, the committee recommended stronger warnings for tobacco users, stricter regulation of the electronic media and creating mass awareness programmes to warn people about the harms of tobacco. In a way, this Committee’s recommendation laid the foundation of developing the existing tobacco control legislation in the country.


Map depicting the different amounts of smokers per state. (The Indian Government, 2010)

Between 1997 and 2001, several litigations were filed for individual’s right to smoke-free air and five states responding with smoke-free and tobacco control legislations, clearly gave the signal for the Government of India to propose a comprehensive law for tobacco control. The Government enacted the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), in 2003. The provisions under the act included prohibition of smoking in public places, prohibition of advertisements of tobacco products, prohibition on sale of tobacco products to and by minors (persons below 18 years), ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of all educational institutions and mandatory display of pictorial health warnings on tobacco products packages. The law also mandates testing all tobacco products for their tar and nicotine content. Although the Rules pertaining to various provisions under the law were notified during 2004 to 2006, there were many legal challenges which the Government had to face in view of the tobacco industry countering most of these Rules in the court of law.


(The Indian government campaign, 2012)

India has often been credited for their targeted tobacco control at youth. When smoking is seen on either television or a movie screen, the law states that an anti tobacco slogan must be displayed at the bottom of the screen. It reads: ‘ smoking causes cancer and can lead to death. No actor on this screen supports or endorses smoking.’ This is only the tip of the iceberg of what the tobacco control is trying to achieve in tagging youth. Programs are run mandatory in schools, educating children in the risks of smoking. This method of having text to discourage the ‘cool’ fracture of smoking is a system that is focused on the youth and is successfully informing the society in a widely accessible and consumed medium – film and television. This anti-smoking control methods for a developing country, is seeing India at the forefront of control in Asia and globally recognisable for their initiative methods, especially at their youth focus targeting.



HM Sampoerna 2015, Annual Report of Indian tobacco control, <> viewed 2 December 2017

Wong, S. 2017, Cheap Cigarettes Are Winning in World’s Second-Biggest Market, Bloomberg, viewed 7 December 2017

HM Sampoerna 2015, Annual Report, viewed 2 December 2017, <>

Nawi Ng, L., Weinehall, A. & Öhman 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, Volume 22, Issue 6, Pages 794–804, <>

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S. & Danardono M. 2009, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, Tobacco Control, viewed 4 December 2017, <>

Wong, S. 2017, Cheap Cigarettes Are Winning in World’s Second-Biggest Market, Bloomberg, <>

World Health Organisation 2017, WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, viewed 4 December 2017, <>

World Health Organisation 2016, Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking, viewed 4 December 2017, <>

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