Saturday January 18, 2020

Punjab Takes Tough Stand On Illegally Imported Cigarettes

Punjab Principal Secretary on Monday directed the concerned authorities to initiate action against vendors indulging in the sale of illegally imported cigarettes and pan masala

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cigarettes, illegal, import, punjab, laws
The trade of illegal brands is getting acute in big cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar where the retailers prefer to sell these brands which are cheap and the profit margins are enormous. Pixabay

Taking a tough stand, Punjab Principal Secretary (health and family welfare) Anurag Aggarwal on Monday directed the concerned authorities to initiate action against vendors indulging in the sale of illegally imported cigarettes and pan masala with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets.

IANS last week highlighted how the sale of illegally imported cigarettes in the state has become common, posing a serious threat to the health of the smokers, who are getting hooked to catchy packets of international brands sans proper health warnings.

Anti-tobacco activists told IANS that the sale of illegal cigarettes, which is an organised crime, not only evades the state’s high taxes but also plays with the lives of smokers, mainly the first-timers, because of inferior manufacturing processes and low quality tobacco with high levels of tar and nicotine.

Presiding over the state-level coordination committee meeting here to curb the usage of tobacco, Aggarwal said that it is a matter of grave concern that some manufacturers are selling pan masala (without tobacco) with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets, which are often sold together by the same vendor.

He said the sale of such products is totally illegal in the state.

Aggarwal said the sale of cigarette packets without 85 per cent pictorial warning against tobacco usage is also a crime.

He directed the Excise Department to take strict action against the offenders.

Trade insiders told IANS that Punjab alone has an annual legal market of 120 million cigarettes and the illegal market accounts for 20 per cent of the total trade.

cigarettes, illegal, import, punjab, laws
Aggarwal said the sale of cigarette packets without 85 per cent pictorial warning against tobacco usage is also a crime. Pixabay

Chandigarh and Panchkula have a market of 30 million and six million cigarettes annually, respectively, and the illegal market also has a share of 15-20 per cent.

Most of the illegal cigarette brands originate from China and Indonesia and the retailers are getting attracted to them as they are available at a significantly lower price as compared to the legal brands. They are sold in the market at one fifth the price of the legal products.

“The trade of illegal brands is getting acute in big cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar where the retailers prefer to sell these brands which are cheap and the profit margins are enormous,” said an insider.

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Take the case of an illegally imported brand. A pack of 20 cigarettes costs Rs 20-30 to the retailer, who sells it for Rs 100. An Indian brand, on the other hand, costs between Rs 250 and Rs 300 with a profit margin of approximately Rs 5 per pack.

The insider said there is huge price difference between Indian brands and the illegal ones due to tax evasion. (IANS)

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Cigarette Smoking Associated with Poor Mental Health: Researchers

In light of the new findings, the researchers said they would like to see policymakers take into account mental health effects of smoking, as well

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If boys start smoking pot in early teenage life, they may be at a higher risk of developing drug problem as a young adult, a new study has said.
Early smoking can lead to drug problems in boys. Pixabay

Researchers have found that smoking not only causes physical damage, but is also detrimental to mental health.

According to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the research team from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Belgrade and University of Pristina together, surveyed more than 2,000 students enrolled at Serbian universities with differing socio-political and economic environments.

They found that students who smoked had rates of clinical depression that were twice to three times higher than did their non-smoking peers.

“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that smoking and depression are closely linked,” while it may be too early to say that smoking causes depression, tobacco does appear to have an adverse effect on our mental health,” said study lead author Hagai Levine at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

According to the researchers, specifically, at the University of Pristina, 14 per cent of smokers suffered from depression as opposed to four per cent of their non-smoking peers, and at Belgrade University the numbers were 19 per cent to 11 per cent, respectively.

smoking
Smoker’s Face– a condition where smokers look older than they are, is just one of many negative effects caused by heavy Smoking, researchers have warned. Pixabay

Further, no matter what their economic or socio-political backgrounds, students who smoked also had higher rates of depressive symptoms and lower mental health scores (such as, vitality and social functioning) compared to non-smoking students.

In light of the new findings, the researchers said they would like to see policymakers take into account mental health effects of smoking, as well.

Also Read: One Sleepless Night Could Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease: Research

“I urge universities to advocate for their students’ health by creating ‘Smoke-Free Campuses’ that not only ban smoking on campus but tobacco advertising, too,” Levine said.

“Combined with policies that prevent, screen and treat mental health problems, including addiction, these steps would go a long way towards combating the harmful effects that smoking has on our physical and mental states,” Levine added. (IANS)