Maharashtra government has banned the sale of unpackaged “loose” cigarettes and beedis, making it the first Indian state to so. The move is aimed at ensuring that customers see the graphic, public health warnings mandated on cigarette packaging.

As per a notification issued by the state public health department on September 24, the state has imposed “complete ban on the sale of single stick loose cigarette and beedis,” The Times of India reported.

The decision is in sync with sub-section (2) of section 7 of Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply & Distribution) Act, 2003, the order, signed by principal secretary (health) Dr Pradeep Vyas, said.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, cancer surgeon at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai told the paper the move would likely impact youth aged 16-17, who do not have the financial resources to buy full packets of cigarette or beedis, but “fuel India’s tobacco epidemic” and grown-ups who bought loose cigarettes and “never felt the pinch of higher taxes imposed on tobacco goods.”

“Studies have shown that a 10 percent rise in taxes results in an 8 percent drop in the number of smokers. But if people are allowed to buy a single cigarette, they do not feel the effect of higher taxes,” he noted.

Maharashtra has the lowest smoking rate in the country, data from the Global Tobacco Youth Survey 2016 showed.