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Tobacco ban plea in SC

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and all states and Union territories to respond to a public interest petition seeking a ban on production and sale of tobacco products.

Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman were initially not inclined to entertain the plea.

“We are not here to deal with such issues. It is for the lawmakers to decide, why don’t you approach them?” the bench said, but asked the governments concerned to respond within six weeks when the lawyer for the petitioner argued that there had been no let-up in cancer-related ailments despite restrictions on the sale of tobacco products.

“The country is annually spending Rs 30,000 crore for treatment of tobacco-related cancer,” counsel Aditya Agrawal, who appeared for the petitioner Sunil Rajpal, said.

He recalled that the court in 2001 had prohibited smoking in public places till the statutory provision was put in force by the government.

Quoting World Health Organisation findings, Agrawal said by 2030, India would have the highest number of deaths on account of smoking and tobacco-related ailments.