The Union Health Ministry has proposed to enforce ban on sale of loose cigarettes in the country by amending the existing anti-smoking lawxvaughanx/Flickr

Union Health Minister JP Nadda proposed Tuesday to amend the anti-smoking Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill 2015, (COTPA), which will lead to a ban on sale of loose cigarettes and raising the age of a person buying tobacco products to 21 years from the existing 18 years, the Press Trust of India reports.

Nadda informed the Rajya Sabha his ministry has also proposed to raise the fine for smoking in public places to Rs 1,000 from Rs 200. The health ministry had constituted a committee to review the existing Act.

"We have accepted the recommendations of the committee and a draft note for the Cabinet was circulated for inter-ministerial consultation." Nadda said.

The COTPA Bill, 2015, says sale of tobacco products loose and in small pouches makes minors susceptible to tobacco use, promotes tobacco sale and renders the warnings on tobacco packaging redundant.

"The prohibition in the sale of tobacco products loose and in single sticks is therefore proposed," the bill said.

It has also proposed removal of designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants, which it says undermines the very objective of the Act — the protection of non-smokers from involuntary smoke.

The minimum age for buying tobacco products has been increased to 21 years from 18 years, which the bill says will ensure protection of future generations from tobacco hazards.

The amendments in the bill seek to enforce a complete ban on Tobacco advertising, which it says will be in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

Special session courts for the trial of offences related to violation of the anti-smoking law have also been proposed, which the bill says will increase reporting of such violations, filing of complaints, expedite trial of offences and ensure effective implementation of the law.

The Health Ministry said the amendment bill has been placed in the public domain as part of pre-legislative consultations to include the views of various stakeholders.