In a concerted effort to combat the growing concern of youth tobacco addiction, the Karnataka government is gearing up to enact a series of measures aimed at curbing this alarming trend. The proposed actions include the prohibition of hookah bars and a significant elevation of the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products to 21 years.
Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao revealed that the government intends to initiate amendments to the existing Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act in order to implement these crucial changes. Following a recent meeting with officials from the health department, Minister Rao disclosed that aside from educational institutions, the sale and consumption of tobacco products are already restricted in areas encompassing places of worship, childcare facilities, and healthcare institutions.
Highlighting the urgent need for these measures, Mr. Rao stressed the mounting attraction of hookah bars among young individuals, expressing concern about the detrimental impact on their health. He further emphasized that the state government plans to raise the minimum age for tobacco product purchases from the current age of 18 to 21.
“We have initiated discussions regarding amendments to the Act, and we are contemplating the issuance of a government order in the near future. The precise wording and legal intricacies will undergo careful consideration and deliberation,” noted Minister Rao, according to statements reported by the news agency PTI.
Minister Rao’s concerns extended to the potential jeopardy that young people face due to their susceptibility to drug addiction. He pointed out the significant connection between tobacco use, particularly in the form of cigarettes, and subsequent involvement in substance abuse. “Tobacco usage often serves as the gateway to these destructive habits, and we are committed to rectifying this issue at its source,” he stated. Additionally, local organizations and the police department will be actively engaged to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of these forthcoming amendments.