Cigarettes

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Guwahati, Mar 7: After liquor, cigarettes and 'gutkha" faced prohibition warnings from members of the Assam Assembly with the legislators today discussing ways to check and curb these menace. The House, during the course of a question on cigarette and gutkha consumption in the state brought by Independent MLA Pranab Kalita, urged state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma to create greater awareness regarding the ill effects of these products.

The minister assured of all possible measures on his side and informed that the law governing sale of cigarette and other tobacco products near educational institutions is being expanded and the government was developing a plan to create greater awareness in this regard.

On Mr Kailta's demand for a prohibition law on these products, Dr Sharma said, ''Forceful prohibition will lead to nefarious circles selling it. We want to create awareness so that people will voluntarily dissuade from indulging in these products, which will be more fruitful.'' He also underlined that only one state prohibiting such products won't incite much positive result, prompting Opposition MLA Girindra Barua to urged the minister to approach other North East states in banning tobacco products collectively.

The House was unanimous in urging the minister to check the menace and the latter assuring of doing its best.

Dr Sharma informed the House that 3,20,000 cigarette packets were sold in the state every day, bringing in over Rs 31 crore to the state"s revenue. In case of gutkha, 6,50,000 packets are sold every day, with over Rs seven crore contributed to the state exchequer.

A similar demand for ban on liquor sale in the state had risen in the Assembly earlier in the week.

Though the state Excise minister had also spoken on the demerits of a forcible ban, he had also assured of steps to check illegal sale.

UNI

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