- Pictorial warnings on 85% of cigarette pack surface too harsh, says panel
- Govt may not change strict rules for cigarette packs: Sources
- New pictorial warnings on cigarette packs will be introduced from April 1
NDTV has accessed the committee's report, which has been submitted after considerable delays, to the government days before the new rules are to be introduced on April 1. The 16 members of the committee include Shyama Charan Gupta of the BJP, known as the "beedi tycoon", impelling allegations of a serious conflict of interest.
However, the government is unlikely to change its plan of implementing the stringent rules on cigarette packs from April, said Health Ministry sources to NDTV on the condition of anonymity.
The Health Ministry first proposed in October 2014 that 85 per cent of a cigarette packet's surface area should carry health warnings, up from 20 per cent. That was opposed by the tobacco industry and put on hold after the parliamentary panel said it needed to analyze the impact on the industry.
But the parliamentary committee wants the warnings to be limited to half the packs' surface area, claiming that otherwise, thousands of tobacco farmers and workers will lose their livelihood, and that cigarette packets without warnings will be sold illegally in a vast black market.
Late last year, the parliamentary panel asked the Health Ministry headed by JP Nadda for evidence to show that such a move would cut tobacco. It asked the ministry to explain which ingredients in tobacco cause cancer and whether previous government surveys showed that graphic warnings led to a drop in tobacco usage, which is linked to as many as 9,00,000 deaths in India every year.
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