Blowing Smoke; How Blinkit's Easy Cigarette Access Reveals Weak Law Enforcement

Naik Naik & Company


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In today's lightning-fast world, it's not just pizza that zooms to your door. Now, even cigarettes and tobacco products can be in your hands in a jaw-dropping nine minutes
India Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
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In today's lightning-fast world, it's not just pizza that zooms to your door. Now, even cigarettes and tobacco products can be in your hands in a jaw-dropping nine minutes! This super-fast service is changing how convenient things can be, making it even quicker and more fun than ever to get what you want right away. However, this rapid accessibility is also raising concerns, particularly among youngsters. With even banned e-cigarettes now readily available, the impact on youth is becoming a significant issue, making the need for regulation and awareness more crucial than ever. In India, one of the largest tobacco markets in the world, around 29% of the population uses tobacco in some form, according to the WHO. This new wave of ultra-fast delivery is adding fuel to the fire, making it even easier for young people to get their hands on these harmful products. The recent judgment of the High Court of Haryana and Punjab in the case of Anshu V. UOI & Ors. (Tejaswin Raj) echoes these concerns.


In the case of Tejaswin Raj, the petitioner, a 15-year-old class X student, moved the Hon'ble High Court of Haryana and Punjab, highlighting the rising prevalence of smoking and vaping among school students due to the easy accessibility of tobacco products through online platforms and social media. Despite existing legislations like 'The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003' (COTPA) and 'The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2019' (PECA), young adults, youths, and even teenagers in the Tricity are openly consuming tobacco products, especially electronic cigarettes, owing to their easy availability under the guise of vapes in public places. As per Section 4 of the PECA, no person shall directly or indirectly produce, manufacture, import, export, transport, sell, or distribute electronic cigarettes, whether as a complete product or any part thereof. Additionally, advertising electronic cigarettes or participating in any advertisement that promotes their use is prohibited. Whereas Section 6 of the COTPA prohibits the sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products to a person below the age of eighteen years. However, the petitioner successfully demonstrated to the Court the ease with which these products can be obtained online by ordering a pack of cigarettes from Blinkit, simply by checking a box confirming he is above 18 years old. Shockingly, the cigarettes were delivered within nine minutes without any age verification by the delivery partner, highlighting significant loopholes in the current system designed to prevent minors from accessing tobacco products.

In response to Raj's plea, the High Court, issued notices to the Union Government, State Governments of Punjab, Haryana, UT Chandigarh, and various other authorities. The Court further expressed concern over the allegations, stating that if these factual aspects are correct, the respondents-authorities must take appropriate steps to ensure that such articles are not readily available in the manner described and must implement all statutory provisions effectively. The plea also seeks the formation of a monitoring committee supervised by a panel of three retired High Court judges to completely prohibit the illicit trade and unauthorized selling of tobacco items online.

Thus, the Court's notice to the relevant authorities is a critical step in acknowledging the problem and urging action to safeguard youngsters from the dangers of smoking.

Analysis Of Judgment

E-cigarettes were banned to protect youngsters from a new form of toxic addiction, but weak enforcement has allowed the market to be flooded with cheap, unbranded China-made products. This judgment comes in the backdrop of the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandating inspections at higher education institutions to ensure banned products are not available to minors. The UGC's directive highlights the serious health risks associated with these products and aims to protect youth from nicotine addiction. Additionally, the Karnataka health department has issued advisories and initiated legal actions against e-commerce platforms selling tobacco products without specific health warnings.

Despite these regulatory efforts and prohibitions, e-cigarettes continue to be readily available through various sources, including online platforms like Blinkit, Zepto, Big Basket, etc. This persistent availability highlights weak enforcement of law and points to a broader issue towards the social responsibility of these organizations in regulating harmful substances.


In conclusion, the case of Tejaswin Raj highlights alarming loopholes in current regulations that allow minors easy access to tobacco products online. This highlights the urgent need for more rigorous enforcement of existing laws, such as stringent age verification measures and penalties for non-compliance by e-commerce platforms and vendors. Implementing a robust monitoring system and enhancing awareness about the risks of tobacco are essential steps. Additionally, forming dedicated regulatory bodies and empowering them with adequate resources can ensure effective enforcement, ultimately protecting the well-being of our youth from the dangers of nicotine addiction.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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