The Indian government has banned tobacco and alcohol from public places after reports of two teenagers being poisoned by drinking.
The health ministry has also imposed a ban on tobacco advertising in public places, including restaurants and public transport.
The move comes amid an ongoing crackdown by the government on tobacco consumption, which has seen a sharp rise in deaths and related illnesses.
In February, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said that the number of children in its care with tobacco poisoning increased by 10 per cent between 2011 and 2014.
In a statement on Thursday, the ministry said the new regulations were meant to “protect children from the dangers of tobacco consumption”.
“The move to ban tobacco advertising comes in the backdrop of a large-scale campaign against tobacco by the state government, and we have also been notified of an increased incidence of cases of child tobacco poisoning,” the statement said.
“The Health Ministry is in touch with all the health departments in the state and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that children are not exposed to tobacco products in public spaces.”
The move was prompted by the National Institute of Public Health and Family Welfare (NIPFW) finding that the rate of cases involving tobacco poisoning was increasing and there was a need to take action.NIPFW said the rise in cases of children suffering from tobacco poisoning in schools was the “primary cause” of the rise.
“We have observed that the growth of tobacco poisoning cases in schools and hospitals was accelerating and is the main reason for the increase in tobacco poisoning among children in the age group of four to 15 years,” NIPFW head Dr Anand Kumar said.
India is one of the world’s top tobacco-producing nations, accounting for 60 per cent of the global market.
Last month, the government announced plans to introduce a two-tier system of pricing for cigarettes, which would see the price rise for those who buy online.
The government said the move would “safeguard children from a high risk of death”.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a ban of electronic cigarettes in public parks, saying they could be used to help children quit smoking.
The announcement was followed by a spate of other moves to tackle the country’s deadly epidemic.
In January, a Delhi court issued an arrest warrant for a teenager who was found to have been smoking in a public toilet in the capital.
A month later, the state launched an anti-smoking campaign in which it banned all outdoor smoking in public areas and gave people two hours to dispose of their tobacco at home.