Fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution of India1, inter alia, provides that none shall be deprived of his life without due process of law. Then-why a non-smoker should be afflicted by various diseases including lung cancer or of heart, only because he is required to go to public places? Is it not indirectly depriving of his life without any process of law? The answer is obviously-yes. Undisputed smoking is injurious to health and may affect the health of smokers but there is no reason that health of passive smokers2 should also be injuriously affected. In any case there is no reason to compel non-smokers to be helpless victims of air pollution.
The statement of objects and reason of (The) Cigarettes (Regulation of Production. Supply and Distribution) Act. 1975, inter alia, provides, “Smoking of cigarettes is a harmful habit and, in course of time, can lead to grave health hazards Researches carried out in various parts of the world have confirmed that there is a relationship between smoking of cigarettes and lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, certain diseases of the heart and arteries caner of bladder, prostrate, mouth pharynx and oesophagus; peptic ulcer etc. are also reported to be among the ill-effects of cigarette smoking.”
Similarly, the statement of objects and reasons of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Bill, 2001, provides, “Tobacco is universally regarded as one of the major public health hazards and is responsible directly or indirectly for an estimated eight lakh deaths annually in the country. It has also been found that treatment of tobacco related diseases and the loss of productivity caused therein cost the country almost Rs. 13,500/- crores annually which more than offsets all the benefits accruing in the form of revenue and employment generated by tobacco industry”
Three million people die every year as a result of illness related to the use of tobacco products of which on e million people belong to developing countries like India. The World Health Organisation is stated to have estimated that tobacco related deaths can rise to a whopping seven million per year. According to this organisation, in the last half century in the developing countries alone smoking has killed more than sixty million people. Tobacco smoking also adds to the air pollution. Besides cancer, tobacco smoking is responsible for various other fatal diseases to the mankind.
Supreme Court of India had given directions to Union Government in Murli S. Deora vs. Union of India and ors3to ensure prohibiting smoking in public places namely :
- Hospital Buildings
- Health Institutions
- Educational Institutions
- Court Buildings
- Public Office
- Public Conveyances, including Railways.
Recent RTI from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revealed that no cigarette company is allowed to advertise, promote and sponsor cigarette and other tobacco products in India under Cigarette and other tobacco products Act, (COTPA) 2003.4 The RTI has also revealed that under the act there is prohibition of smoking in public places5 and prohibition of sale of tobacco products near the educational institutions6. But sale of tobacco products near educational institutions is on rise and also government has failed to ensure prohibition of smoking in public places. The fine is very less which is imposed on a person who is caught smoking in public place. The Government needs to ensure that youth of India should grow in environment free from smoke of tobacco and ensure the implementation of laws that no tobacco product should be sell near educational institutions.
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
2 Passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke, called second-hand smoke (SHS), or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), by persons other than the intended ‘active’ smoker. It occurs when tobacco smoke permeates any environment, causing its inhalation by people within that environment.
4 Section 5 of COTPA, 2003 provides for prohibition of advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of cigarettes and other tobacco products . Hence no cigarette companies are allowed to advertise tobacco products.
About the Author
Kush is a practicing lawyer at Delhi High Court. He graduated from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, India in 2012 and has authored a book titled – Be Your Own Lawyer.