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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 8, 2001: Today the Rajya Sabha introduced legislation to ban smoking in public places. The bill, introduced by Health and Family Welfare Minister C.P. Thakur, seeks to put a total ban on advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products and to prohibit sponsorship of sports and cultural events by the manufacturers, as well as sale of tobacco products to minors. It also proposes to regulate the contents and language of specified warnings and require nicotine and tar contents to be displayed. It is estimated that the treatment of tobacco related diseases and the resulting loss of productivity cost the country US$2.9 billion annually, far surpassing any benefits accrued from revenue and employment generated by the tobacco industry.