Last updated: January 24, 2023
India became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
Smoking is completely banned in many public places and workplaces such as healthcare, educational, and government facilities and on public transport. The law, however, permits the establishment of smoking areas or spaces in airports, hotels having 30 or more rooms, and restaurants having seating capacity for 30 or more. With respect to outdoor places, open auditoriums, stadiums, railway stations, bus stops/stands are smoke free. Sub-national jurisdictions may enact smoke free laws that are more stringent than the national law.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Advertising through most forms of mass media is prohibited. There are some restrictions on tobacco sponsorship and the publicity of such sponsorship.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Health warning labels are pictorial and text; cover 85 percent of the front and back panels of the tobacco product package parallel to the top edge; and are rotated every 12 months. Misleading packaging and labeling, including terms such as “light,” and “low-tar” and other signs, is prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law does not grant the authority to regulate the contents of cigarettes. The law does not require that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products via vending machines and within 100 yards of any educational institution. In addition, several states ban the sale of single cigarettes and gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco. There are no restrictions on internet sales or the sale of small packets of cigarettes or other tobacco products. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The law prohibits the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, and advertising of e-cigarettes. There are no restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes.
Heated Tobacco Products
The sale of heated tobacco products (HTPs) is prohibited. Existing smoking restrictions apply to HTPs. The law bans the direct and indirect advertisement and promotion of both tobacco inserts and devices.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA) is the principal comprehensive law governing tobacco control in India. The Act was passed before India became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2004, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare exercised the powers granted to it in Section 31 of COTPA by promulgating a first set of rules, which, with respect to smoke free and tobacco advertising issues, have been stayed by court order or superseded. With respect to general enforcement of COTPA, G.S.R. 1866(E) lists certain officers who are authorized to carry out the entry, search, and seizure provisions of the Act.
Following the passage of COTPA in 2003, various rules implementing COTPA address smoke free policies or provide useful definitions. These include G.S.R. 561(E) (defining the term “educational institutions”); G.S.R. 417(E) (superseding the 2004 Rules and establishing new rules covering designated smoking areas, and enforcement obligations, authorities and penalties, among other items); G.S.R. 680(E) (authorizing certain persons to collect fines for violations of smoke free rules); and G.S.R. 500(E) (amending the 2008 rules established by G.S.R. 417(E)). The Railways Act, 1989 also regulates smoking on trains.
With regard to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, G.S.R. 345(E) amends the 2004 Rules by substituting new provisions on point of sale advertising and adding a definition of indirect advertising. G.S.R. 619(E) provides additional point of sale rules, and G.S.R. 786(E) establishes rules for television and film and print and outdoor media. G.S.R. 708(E) updates the rules for television and film, and G.S.R. 400(E) adds health warning requirements for online curated content. Additionally, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (CTNA) and its 2009 implementing rules prohibit direct advertising of tobacco products on Indian cable networks, but permit the indirect advertising of such products under certain circumstances. A subsequent Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Directive, however, appears to prohibit indirect advertising of tobacco products until guidelines called for by the CTNA Rules are issued. Finally, Guidelines issued pursuant to Section 5B(2) of the Cinematograph Act of 1952, require the Central Board of Film Certification to ensure that certain types of smoking scenes do not appear in movies.
Packaging and labeling provisions are included in several implementing rules enacted following COTPA’s passage in 2003. G.S.R. 182(E) (Packaging and Labeling Rules of 2008) contains certain definitions and establishes the components (i.e., content, size, rotation, etc.) of the health warnings, but various provisions in subsequent rules replace certain language in the 2008 regulations. For example, G.S.R. 693(E) requires that health warnings be printed, pasted or affixed on external packaging such as cartons. G.S.R. 305(E) updates the definition of “package” and the location of the health warnings, deleting the requirement that the warnings be located on both sides of tobacco product packaging. G.S.R. 985(E) changes the rotation period of the health warnings from one year to two years and re-establishes the warnings published in G.S.R. 182(E). (G.S.R. 985(E) caused the diseased lungs and scorpion health warnings to continue in effect instead of new health warnings which were supposed to come into force in December 2010.) The government implemented new rounds of warnings on December 1, 2011 (via G.S.R. 417(E)) and on April 1, 2013 (via G.S.R. 724(E)).
On October 15, 2014, the government introduced new larger warnings via G.S.R. 727(E) that, among other things, increased the warning size from 40 percent of one side of tobacco product packaging to 85 percent of both sides of tobacco packaging and amended the rotation scheme prescribed in G.S.R. 985(E). Although the rules announced by G.S.R. 727(E) were to have gone into effect on April 1, 2015, G.S.R. 739(E) establishes April 1, 2016 as the implementation date of the 85-percent health warnings. The government implemented new rounds of warnings on September 1, 2018 (G.S.R. 331(E)), December 1, 2020 (G.S.R. 458(E)), and December 1, 2022 (G.S.R. 592(E)). Provisions prohibiting misleading descriptors and obscuring the health warnings on the package remain in G.S.R. 182(E) unaltered.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019 (No. 42 of 2019) replaces the 2019 E-Cigarette Ordinance and bans the sale and advertising of e-cigarettes, e-cigarette components and HTPs.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.