Govt defers move to increase size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products: Update
While almost every nation in the world seems to be creating awareness about the deadly impacts of tobacco products, the Indian government has deferred the move to do so. Last year Indonesia too went on to make stringent laws in this regard and those companies that didnâ€™t have pictorial warnings on as much as 70 percent of the products were banned and fined heftily.
This follows some BJP MPs comments that cigarettesâ€™ impact on peopleâ€™s health was actually over blown. Now the union government has actually delayed the decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products following a Parliamentary panel’s assertion that it needs more time to deliberate on the issue.
The union government has reportedly made a final decision on it. Health Minister J P Nadda, however, insisted that the government was committed to its stand on increasing the size of pictorial warning and curbing tobacco consumption in all its forms and have informed the panel on the same.
The minister while talking of the development said, â€œThe committee has said that they want to deliberate it further. They have asked for more time for deliberation. Till that time, the warning which was to come up on advertisement and on the packets has been stayedâ€¦But the Health Ministry, when it went to the Committee, whatever we have said, we are firm on that. We have pleaded that there was a necessity for this (warnings). Health Ministry is very much on its stand,” Nadda said. The Parliamentary Committee on subordinate legislation examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 headed by BJP MP Dilip Gandhi had “strongly” urged the government to keep on hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 % to 85 % which was to come to effect from April 1.
Nadda went on to add, â€œIt is the recommendation of the committee to keep it abeyance till they decide and deliberate on it. They are deliberating. Till that time it has been stayed. Health Ministry is committed whatever stand we have taken, we want to take it forwardâ€. Senior Health Ministry officials said the committee has recommended that notification regarding increase of pictorial warning area shld be kept in abeyance as all stakeholders have not been consulted yet. “The ministry has to follow recommendations of the committee. There is no change in the ministry’s commitment to curb tobacco consumption in all possible forms,” a senior official said.
This is going to reverse the fight against tobacco products. Citing “adverse impact” on livelihood of people involved in the tobacco industry, the panel said a large number of representations expressing “serious” apprehensions from MPs as well as other stakeholders against the proposed notification. The panel in its report had said, “it strongly urges the government that the implementation of the notification viz GSR 727-E dated October 15, 2014 may be kept in abeyance till the committee finalise the examination of the subject and arrive at appropriate conclusion and present an objective report to the Parliament”. Head of the panel Dilip Gandhi had also given a controversial remark saying said there was no Indian study to confirm that use of tobacco products leads to cancer