MUMBAI (Reuters) – India moved a step closer to banning the sale of unpackaged cigarettes, with a view to discourage smoking in a country where close to a million people each year die of tobacco-related diseases.
More than 70 percent of the cigarettes sold in India are loose.
The health ministry has accepted the recommendation of an internal panel and will seek cabinet approval before imposing the ban, Health Minister J.P. Nadda told parliament in a written statement on Tuesday.
Shares in India’s largest cigarette maker, ITC Ltd, fell 5.2 percent, its biggest daily drop in five months, and Godfrey Phillips India Ltd lost nearly 9 percent. By comparison, the Nifty fell 0.8 percent.
As many as 900,000 people in India die from tobacco-related diseases a year, and that number could jump to 1.5 million by 2020, the International Tobacco Control Project estimates.
India is a party to The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states that countries “shall endeavour” to prohibit sales of loose cigarettes, which are more affordable for minors.
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