Towards a tobacco free India

India tobacco

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Mr. Yasir Aslam, Presently a student of 2nd year persuing MBBS from Al – Ameen medical college, Bijapur, Karnataka. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Tobacco was introduced to India in 17th century but the use of Cannabis can be traced back to 2000 BC. Before tobacco, fumigation and fire offering were prescribed by the Ayurvedic practitioner to treat certain symptoms. This later emerged all together as practices of smoking among the general public.

Survey done shows that there are more than 120 million smokers in India. According to WHO, India is a home to 12% of world’s smokers. A study by “A Nationally representative case control study of smoking and death in India” – Tobacco is responsible for 1 in 5 of all males death and 1 in 20 of all female deaths.

The rising death of youth has become a national concern. The government of India prohibited smoking in public places nationwide on 2 October 2008 under the prohibition of smoking in public by Cigarette and other tobacco products act abbreviated COTPA in 2003. The WHO introduced tobacco free public space which has been successfully introduced and implemented in lot of European countries.

In India the law “Tobacco free public space” cannot be executed in a proper manner as there is a large population which doesn’t abide by law and order, which is a major drawback in a country like India. There are laws implemented by the supreme court of India regarding the ban of tobacco smoking in the public places in India, but the people of India including adolescents freely consume tobacco.

Smoking and chewing tobacco in parks, near schools, educational buildings, railway stations and other areas has become more of a trend. There are vendors everywhere selling tobacco of all form in public places. There are no separate areas for smoking so people smoke on roads, pedestrian paths, collage campuses and elsewhere.

Indian law administration takes no care regarding tobacco smoking at public places. There have been many campaigns going regarding anti-tobacco advocacy teaching the ill effects of passive smoking but still very few percent of people leave smoking per year and yet many take up on this habit regardless of having knowledge about ill effects of tobacco consumption and still remain unaffected and careless.

Concerned authorities should make free smoking zones available at public places. And simultaneously sanction people who don’t abide by law. The sale of tobacco and other such products should be banned within the proximity of hospitals, schools and colleges.

Also taking into consideration the huge population of India and many rural areas where its difficult to implement,  should be done step wise. e.g. targeting the metropolitan cities and highly first and then the next highly populated places  gradually zero down to the difficult areas.


Health Department Website (Government of India).

Cigarettes and other Tobacco Related Act.

World Health Organisation Website.


About the author

A member of Medical Student association of India (MSAI) and International federation of medical student association (IFMSA). Presently a student of 2 nd year persuing MBBS from Al – Ameen medical college, Bijapur, Karnataka which is associated with Rajiv Gandhi University of health sciences, Bangalore-  India. I have conducted and was a part of Anti-tobacco compaign, an initiative by SCOPH – MSAI at different regions of India  including schools and colleges. Presently working as Local exchange officer (LEO) at MSAI.














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