SHOPPING IN INDIA.
Buying the old cancer stick.
How to buy those cancer sticks in a country that contributed 110 million smokers to a global gang of 967 million as recent as 2012. See NDTV report, 2014: Smokers rise in India.
Banned from restaurants, offices, public gatherings and hounded by social awareness campaigns rife with horrific images of rotting flesh and painful deaths, the once iconic Cigarette is the bane of the modern word, everyone from doctors to concerned spouses like to see stubbed out of existence for reasons that are totally legit: They are medically certified to be root cause of lung cancer and several other ailments.
That said, giving up the old cancer stick is not easy once the nicotine has got you stringed and dancing like a puppet, specially in a society with a high level of anxiety problems, depressions, hectic work schedules and unceasing tensions. You know that. The government out collecting its levied taxes knows that. The manufacture hiking up the prices knows that. And so does the merchant out to make a quick buck on an unsuspecting you.
The best way to get out of the vicious circle is to give up the habit altogether suffering a few months of discomfort and a couple of relapses until you are as fresh as the day just before you first picked up the addictive.
But if you are unable to do so right at this moment or simply relish the joy of smoking inspite the graphic warnings, here is a thumb of rule to purchasing cigarettes in India’s largely unhygienic and unmonitored market where prices differ greatly from city to city, town to town and merchant to merchant.
If not the cancer, think of the hygiene.
Milk, wafers, defense documents or cigarettes there is no beating the sealed envelope. While opting for loose singles might sound like a smart move to keep the numbers down and the cancer out (not that there is any substantial proof even one might not get you hospitalized), buying a sealed packet is more advantageous. Primarily on the grounds of hygiene, which Indians by and large don’t care much about.
First, the shopkeeper does not get to touch with unwashed hands what you eventually will be putting into your mouth (there is no telling what his hands were up to before you arrived). Second, there is the assurance what you are putting into your mouth has not been getting wet and wild rolling around on the floor making friends with human excrement, germs, dust and other microscopic organisms roaming around in the dirt or wherever the merchant decided to stash it.
If not the savings, let the pocket change come handy.
Like a large number of Indians, you might think of loose singles as cheaper but keep this in mind, loose singles added up does not equal the price of the packet. Which means, if your brand of Classic Regulars (pack of 20) cost Rs. 218, adding up the amount you spend on each single will likely be more at the end of the month or year, unless of course you smoke less than two a day.
If not your right to a de-addiction center, honor your rights as a consumer.
All products and commodities legally sold in the India market (cigarettes include) come with a clearly mentioned Maximum Retail Price. So you don’t get to pay a penny more or penny less than what is the actual price. The MRP is a law in itself established by the government of India – that authority body that cannot be overruled and works in favour of customers to keep them from being cheated.
It is inclusive of all local taxes and in case of a recent price rise, no merchant by law is supposed to sell you stock at the latest price unless clearly stated in the MRP (see article: Maximum Retail Price on Legal Service India.com). However, this law is rarely taken seriously and while as a consumer you can take legal action at the district forum or consumer court, the proceedings usually take a very long time.
If not bars and hotels, at least not the trashcan for pride’s sake.
Cigarettes are available at various places in the country. Predominantly at hotels, pubs, departmental stores, 24 x 7 outlets, local shops and street sellers.
Hotels and pubs that do stock up on the commodity usually charge more than the printed MRP and are legally allowed to do so. Large departmental stores and 24 x 7 outlets are more likely to stick to the MRP, and make up the best places to pick up the favourite brand. Street sellers and local shops constitute the highest percentage for quoting higher prices without official approval.
In the absence of a large departmental store, picking a local shop that is in the midst of a busy market is a far better option than heading for one that rarely sees customers. There are chances ‘busy market guy’ might still play by the rules.
The flip side to this, is that local retail units within an area or town work cohesively, and almost all of them will stick to quoting the same price, way and above the MRP. In cities like Delhi or elsewhere for that matter once commercial centers shut down for the night, it is a wise decision to pick a petrol pump with a 24 x 7 outlet (if available) – street sellers are prone to charging double for every pack, after dark.
Stocking up is another good option, when touring remote areas of the country or taking an overnight trip. Shops and dhabas (local eateries) on the highway are known for overpricing and may not keep your brand.
If not the unnecessary extortion, try some substitutes.
Surviving without cigarettes is not that hard when the modern world offers substitutes and several unique ways of cleansing your body and mind of the addictive. Nicorette chewing gums and Nicorette nicotine sticks (see Nicorette.In) let you pacify your cravings without inhaling the ill effects of a cigarette while gradually help in giving up smoking. Nicorette products are available in a majority of pharmacy outlets as well as online (see Nicorette White Ice Mint at Amazon). Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are also known to be effective substitutes.