India's food safety authority has been urged by an anti-tobacco voluntary group to expand its public health policy by checking on the promotion and sales of tobacco products in the country.
HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth), in a letter to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said tobacco products were being indirectly promoted in the country.
"The tobacco industry has been using indirect and surrogate means like sponsoring TV shows, cricket tournaments and award functions to promote products such as pan masala through their identical brand extensions."
"The use of identical or similar brand names creates a confusion and incites consumers, particularly youth, to experiment with such products," the letter to FSSAI chairperson K. Chandramouli said.
FSSAI, under the ministry of health and family welfare, lays down scientific standards for food articles and their manufacturing, storage and distribution.
Citing advertisements of certain products at Delhi's Metro stations and the international airport, which claim to have "zero percent tobacco", the anti-tobacco group demanded that these be tested to ensure the safety of consumer.
"We urge FSSAI to initiate a process of testing all pan masala and mouth fresheners available in the market and, based on their cancer-causing and other hazardous properties, prohibit their direct and indirect advertisements," the letter said.