Can police officers seize cigarette or other tobacco products?

Yes, the officers of following ranks may seize tobacco products if they believe that the relevant law is being violated1:

  • A police officer, at least at the rank of a sub-inspector
  • An officer of State Food or Drug Administration
  • An other officer, at least at the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central/State Government

However, they may not hold the tobacco products for more than 90 days without the approval of the District Judge.2

  1. Section 13(1), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]
  2. Section 13(2), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]

Can officers enter and search my shop where I sell cigarettes/other tobacco products?

Yes, the officers of following ranks may enter and search a shop selling cigarettes/other tobacco products if they believe that the relevant law is being violated1:

  • A police officer, at least at the rank of a sub-inspector
  • An officer of State Food or Drug Administration
  • Any other officer, at least at the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central/State Government

The following places may be searched2:

  • Where the advertisement of cigarettes and tobacco products is made.
  • Where the trade of cigarettes and tobacco products is carried out
  1. Section 12(1), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]
  2. Section 12(1), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]

Is it illegal if movies and TV shows show actors smoking on-screen?

It is illegal for TV shows and movies to show a character or actor smoking cigarettes or consuming tobacco products on screen. This does not apply to old or foreign movies/TV shows.1 When display of use of tobacco products is required, it should be explained to the Central Board of Film Certification. Additionally, the following safeguards must be present2:

  • Anti-tobacco health messages, of at least 30 seconds, should be played at the beginning and middle of the videos.
  • An audiovisual disclaimer of at least 20 seconds, on the ill-effects of tobacco. It will be played in the beginning and middle of the video.
  • While the scene in which a person is consuming tobacco is playing, a warning will be displayed.
  • No close-ups of the packages will be allowed, and no brands will be displayed.
  1. Section 2(a), the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2012.[]
  2. Section 2(b), the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2012.[]

What has the government done to discourage use of tobacco?

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched an anti-smoking project, called the m-cessation programme. It uses mobile technology to encourage people to quit tobacco use. Additionally, the website has simple tips for managing cravings, formulating a quitting plan, etc.

It has an exclusive email ID for the purpose of sending emails for promotion of the program as well as to inform people at large regarding the ill effects of tobacco use at regular intervals.

A helpline number has been launched (011-22901701) which will register you with the program. You can also register by providing basic details (mobile number and email address) here.

Can the Court order confiscation of cigarettes/other tobacco products?

The Court can order the confiscation of any package of cigarettes or other tobacco products.1 However, in certain cases, instead of the confiscation, the Court may allow you to pay the costs of the goods seized2.

In this case, the products will be returned to you. However, you must ensure you follow all the laws before you sell or distribute the products.3

  1. Section 14, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003[]
  2. Section 15(1), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003[]
  3. Section 15(2), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]

Do I have to put warning labels on the cigarettes/other tobacco products I am exporting?

You do not have to put warning labels on the cigarettes/other tobacco products you are exporting. This is because the law1 on tobacco products in India does not apply to any tobacco products that are being exported. However, all exported products must comply with requirements of the foreign country.2

  1. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]
  2. Section 32, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[]

Duties of Educational Institutes

The owner/manager of an education institute must ensure that a board is displayed at a conspicuous place outside the institute, which states the following:1

  • The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products is strictly prohibited within 100 yards of the institute. The distance measured radially from the outer boundary of the institute.
  • The punishment2 is a fine of Rs. 200. 

Punishment

You cannot sell tobacco products within 100 yards of an educational institute. The punishment is a fine of Rs. 200.3

  1.  Section 3, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Display of Board by Educational Institutions) Rules, 2009.[][]
  2. Section 24 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[][]
  3. Section 24, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[][]

Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

Under the law, tobacco products refer to1 products like:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Cheroots (a cigar which is open on both ends)
  • Beedis
  • Chewing Tobacco
  • Snuff
  • Cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco
  • Pan masala
  • Gutka
  • Tooth Powder containing Tobacco

A cigarette is a roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any other material. However, under the law beedis, cheroots and cigars are tobacco products, not cigarettes2.

Indian law, governs the production, sale, distribution, consumption of advertisement of cigarettes and tobacco products. For example, smoking in a public place is not allowed, as is sale to a minor person and advertisement of tobacco products.

  1. Schedule I, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[][]
  2. Section 3(b), the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.[][]

Smoking in a Public Place

Places you cannot smoke

Smoking in public buildings like a restaurant, theatres, healthcare institutions or public transport is a crime. If you are caught smoking in a public place, a police officer can detain you. The punishment is a maximum fine of Rs. 200.

Places you can smoke

Open Spaces

You can smoke in completely open spaces like roads or parks. However, it is still illegal to smoke in public places like bus stops, railway stations or open auditoriums.

Smoking Areas

You can smoke in designated smoking areas. Under this law, hotels (with more than 30 rooms), airports, or restaurants (which can seat more than 30 people) can create a separate smoking area where smokers can smoke.

 

Selling Cigarettes

There are some prohibitions and restrictions when it comes to selling cigarettes. It is illegal1 to:

  • sell cigarettes or tobacco products to people under 18
  • sell cigarettes or tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution

If you are caught selling cigarettes to minors (under 18), a police officer can detain you and take you to the Magistrate in 24 hours.  You will be punished with jail time up to seven years and a fine up to one lakh rupees.

  1. ​​Section 77, Juvenile Justice Act; Section 6, The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.[]