Pictorial Warning Directive to Cigarette Manufacturers Deferred Again in India

by Gopalan on  November 26, 2008 at 11:18 AM General Health News
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 Pictorial Warning Directive to Cigarette Manufacturers Deferred Again in India
Moved by the plight of cigarette industry in these times of recession, the federal Indian government has chosen to defer the directive on pictorial warnings by at least six months.

Starting Dec. 1, manufacturers were to prominently display on the packs a skull-and-bones sign, a warning saying `tobacco and smoking kills' along with images meant to dissuade smokers.

But the powerful group of ministers (GoM) decided Monday to keep the move in abeyance till May 31 next year.

Apparently the rationale is that the government should not turn the knife in the wound of an industry already threatened by the worldwide recession.

But then this is the fifth time in two years that the omnibus directive is being relegated to the backburner, testifying to the clout of the cigarette industry.

Times of India speculated that the ruling Congress and its allies might also be wary of  hurting the tobacco business at a time when general elections are not too far away.

 The move to make pictorial warnings compulsory has been bitterly opposed by the tobacco lobby even though it is the norm in some western countries.

If the lobby has triumphed yet again, the decision should come as a disappointment to Health minister A Ramadoss who has been at loggerheads with his Cabinet colleagues. He has been insisting for long now on early implementation of the directive on pictorial warnings, but in vain, as it is turning out.

Source: Medindia

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Colleen Roche Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We are disappointed that the Indian Government has deferred by six months the implementation of pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging. This is even more unfortunate because more than 100 countries last week unanimously adopted international standards for warning labels on tobacco packaging. India, once a leader in this area, is now falling behind.

The evidence is clear worldwide. Graphic health warnings help reduce tobacco use and discourage young people from starting in the first place; and the cost to the taxpayer is nothing.

We hope that the Government reaffirms its commitment to public health by aligning itself with the international community and by adopting these regulations as soon as possible. The World Lung Foundation pledges its support to once again make India a model for reducing the devastating harms of tobacco use." Submitted by Peter Baldini, Executive Director of the World Lung Foundation, New York, NY

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