Warning to Cover 85% of Cig Packs, a Decisive Jolt to Tobacco

Warning to Cover 85% of Cig Packs, a Decisive Jolt to Tobacco

New Delhi. October 16:  Tobacco lobby has shuddered as smokers would when the new order regarding pictorial warning is implemented next year. The new order mandates covering of 85 percent space on both sides of cigarette packs and other tobacco products with pictorial and text warnings in English, Hindi or any other Indian language about the adverse health effects of their consumption.

This order will come in effect from April next year. The health ministry has issued a notification to this effect. As per the notification, 60% will be devoted to pictorial warnings while 25% will be covered by textual warnings. At present, the space covered by warnings is only 40%.

Health minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Tobacco means only death. I have seen this closely… effects of tobacco as an ENT surgeon.” The total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India for people in the age group of 35-69 years was over Rs 1.4 lakh crore in 2011 of which 16% was direct and 84% was indirect cost. Premature mortality was highest in the 40-44 age groups for both men and women.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan is adamant to give jolt of a life time to tobacco. Given the immense power of tobacco lobby, it was not advisable for any health minster to go gung ho against it so far. But Dr. Vardhan looks unstoppable because being a doctor he has a visceral anathema to anything tobacco. He delivered first jolt to this lobby by getting exorbitant tax levied on cigarettes in the previous budget.

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