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What is the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act: COTPA

COTPA

The COTPA or Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products {Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution} Act, 2003 is an act that specifies regulation related to tobacco products. This Act provides norms for the trade and commerce, production, supply, and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products in India.  

Introduction to COTPA

COTPA is an acronym used for Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act. It is an act of Parliament of India that prohibits advertising cigarettes and other products containing tobacco. Additionally, it provides rules and regulations related to tobacco products. It was enacted by the Rajya Sabha on 9th April 2003 and on 30th April 2003 by the Lok Sabha.

Definition of Important Terms

The essential terms and their definitions under COTPA are as follows;

Advertisement: The term Advertisement means any visible representation of in the form of notice, circular, label, wrapper, document, etc. additionally, it also includes any announcements made orally or utilizing transmitting light, sound, smoke or gas.

Cigarette: means any roll made from paper or any other material containing tobacco. Also, such roll which is distributed as cigarette depending on its appearance, type of tobacco used in the filler, it’s packaging or labeling, etc. However, it does not include beedi, cheroot, and cigar.

Label: it depicts any written, marked, stamped, printed, affixed or appearing on the package

Package: this includes a wrapper, carton, box, tin or any other container

Production: means manufacturing beedi, cheroot, cigar, cigarette, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, pan masala, and chewing material containing tobacco, or any other item containing or including tobacco.  The actions in “Production” include;

  • Packing, labeling/relabeling of containers
  • Repacking from the stock packages to make retail packages
  • Employing any other method for selling/distribution of tobacco products

Public place: It refers to a place to which anyone has access to. Such sites include auditoriums, public offices, hospital buildings, court buildings, railway waiting room, amusement park, restaurants, educational institutes, libraries, public transports, etc.

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Provisions

The COTPA has given numerous rules and regulations related to the use of tobacco products and restricting the advertisement of such products. The requirements of the Cigarettes[1] and Other Tobacco Products Act {COTPA} are as follows;

  1. The act prohibits smoking at public places except in special smoking zones in restaurants, offices, hotels, airports, and open spaces.
  2. The act strictly restricts any advertisements for any product containing tobacco. It states that people should not engage in advertising or promoting any tobacco product or use of such products though any electronic or non-electronic or any other form of media. Additionally, it also states that no person should engage in selling any video-film of such advertisement, provide a space for ads of such items, distribute pamphlets/leaflets, documents, etc.
  3. Tobacco products should not be sold to any person below 18 years of age. Also it should not be sold at places located within 100 yards radius from any educational institutes such as schools, colleges, and higher education institutions.
  4. The packaging of tobacco products must contain an appropriate pictorial warning, its tar and nicotine contents. Such packaging must contain a skull or scorpion as suitable graphic advice along with the text SMOKING KILLS, and TOBACCO CAUSES MOUTH CANCER in Hindi and English.
  5. The Act empowers police officers holding a rank of sub-inspector or above ranks or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other concerned officer holding position which is not less than the sub-inspector level related to search or seizure. Such officers have the power to search and seize the premises of manufacturing unit, storage or selling space if they find any non-compliances of the provisions given under the act.
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Penalties

Furthermore, the COTPA also includes punishments if the provisions of the act are violated in any way. Such penalties include;

  • A person or entity which is involved in manufacturing tobacco products and is violating the norms of the law related to warnings on packages, such manufacturers shall be liable for a penalty. For the first conviction, they will be punished with imprisonment up to two years or with a fine which may extend to Rs. 5000. In case of second and further subsequent convictions, the punishments may include five years jail term or a fine up to Rs. 10,000.
  • A fine up to Rs.200 is imposed on the defaulter who is found smoking at public places, selling a tobacco product to minors, or selling of such items within a radius of 100 yards near any educational institutes.
  • A person who advertise tobacco products in any form is liable for a fine up to Rs. 1000 on first conviction or a jail term up to two years. Also, when such offense is repeated then the defaulter is liable for a fine up to Rs. 5000 or jail term for up to five years.

Disclaimer

The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products or COTPA {Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution} Act, 2003 replaced the old rule supervising tobacco products namely, Cigarettes {Regulation of Production, Supply, and Distribution} Act, 1975.

Furthermore, the act compels the owner/in-charge of a public place to place a board containing the warning “No Smoking Area-Smoking here is a punishable offense” inside the premises of such public areas.   

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Moreover, the places where such tobacco products are sold must display appropriate messages like “Tobacco Causes Cancer” and “Selling of Tobacco Product to a person below the age of eighteen is a punishable offense,” etc.

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