As the deadline for implementation of pictorial warnings on tobacco products (April 1, 2016) is nearing, the members of the parliamentary panel have suggested reducing the size of the warnings to 50 percent instead of the recommended 85 percent.
Last year, the committee had announced to increase the size of the pictorial warnings from 40 percent to 85 percent, but now it has favored its reduction stating that the warnings may affect farmers and companies.
‘The parliamentary panel suggested that the warning on cigarette packets should be 50 percent on both sides of the principal display area instead of 85 percent of the area.
"The Committee is of the considered view that in order to have a balanced approach, the warning on cigarette packets should be 50 percent on both sides of the principal display area instead of 85 percent of the area, as it will be too harsh and will result in flooding of illicit cigarettes in the country," the report suggested.
The beedi manufacturers have issued their statement that if the pictorial warnings are implemented as 85 percent, then there would be no place for the brand logo, name and address of manufacturer, customer care numbers as required by Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.
Also, added that 85 percent health warning implementation "would hammer a death knell for the entire industry and millions of people will become jobless, leading to social unrest".
The Health Ministry is looking to implement stricter rules on tobacco-related products to warn about its health issues. Large-sized pictorial warnings have been effective in communicating health risks of smoking in several countries around the world.