The Indian government has, through various social cause advertising, highlighted the ill effects of tobacco and related products. From time to time various strictures have been passed so as to deter the susceptible section of the society from indulging in tobacco abuse.

The state governments have also taken numerous initiatives to inform the public of the ill effects of tobacco on human health. All these measures have however stopped short of completely banning tobacco products.

State Government to File Reply
The state of Assam may well be the first state in the country to buck this trend, thanks to the intervention of the Gauhati high court.

The honorable high court has questioned the state government as to why there should not be a comprehensive ban on tobacco products. The state government has been directed to file a reply before November 8, 2013.

The Indian Dental Association (Assam branch) had reportedly written to the chief justice urging the court’s intervention in regulating or banning all kinds of tobacco products; smokeless and smokeable, in the state.

“We believe that the bill should be modified and there is a need for a complete ban on all forms of tobacco, including smokable tobacco like cigarette or bidis, in the interest of health of citizens. Banning smokeless products only will serve the real purpose of the state government,” said S S Dey, the amicus curiae of the high court in the case.

Assam Health Bill
It is important to note that The Assam Health Bill, 2013 has been passed by the state assembly. If the said bill gets a nod from the governor JB Patnaik’s, it will be become a law.

A Nalbari-based NGO has urged the governor to seriously consider the complete ban on tobacco before giving the green signal to the bill.

According to a clause in The Assam Health Bill, 2013, anyone who manufactures, advertises, stores, trades, distributes or sells zarda, gutkha or pan masala that contains tobacco or nicotine is liable to face legal action.

“The high court is also exploring the possibilities of making a judicial legislation in the matter till a new law is prepared,” added Dey.

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