Government Moves To Enforce Bigger Pictorial Warnings On Tobacco Products

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Government Moves To Enforce Bigger Pictorial Warnings On Tobacco Products

The government wants manufacturers to cover 85 per cent of a cigarette pack's surface in health warnings, up from 20 per cent now. (File Photo)

New Delhi:  The Health Ministry has written to the states and ministries to strictly enforce bigger pictorial warnings on tobacco product packs that became mandatory from April 1.

The government wants manufacturers to cover 85 per cent of a cigarette pack's surface in health warnings, up from 20 per cent now.

The ministry says even now most tobacco products don't carry the new warnings and it wants that to change. It has written to several ministries, government departments and states to strictly start enforcing bigger pictorial warnings on tobacco products. NDTV has accessed several of these letters with the ministry emphasising, "the effective implementation of rules requires strong support and involvement of other concerned government agencies."

A letter has been written to the Foreign Secretary as well. "The norms of bigger pictorial warnings apply to all tobacco products even those which are imported into India. We want our missions in other counties to ensure that word gets out," said a ministry official, requesting anonymity.

According to some reports, local authorities in Patna have already started enforcing the order and cracked down on tobacco sellers and confiscated goods.

Three of India's biggest cigarette producers have stopped their production from April 1 month citing "vagueness" in the ministry's order to move to bigger pictorial warnings. The Tobacco Institute of India which represents the tobacco product manufacturers says that the daily shutdown is costing the industry Rs 350 crore.

Health Ministry officials have however said that the order to move to bigger pictorial warnings was issued in September last year, six months before the cut off date and that the tobacco industry cannot use this as an excuse not to switch over now.

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