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India bows to tobacco lobby, puts off warnings on packs

Posted in S. Asia

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Published on April 03, 2015 with No Comments

No dilution of stand: Health Minister
“The parliamentary committee has asked for more time. So, we have held the warnings till it finishes its deliberations. There’s no question of watering down on our anti-tobacco stand,” said JP Nadda, Health Minister

The Health Ministry postponed indefinitely the enforcement of tougher anti-tobacco pack warnings it had notified in October last year for implementation from April 1 this year.
The postponement came in the form of a “corrigendum” to the ministry’s October 2014 notification which required the tobacco industry to print pictorial health warnings covering 85 per cent of the product’s package area on both sides from April 1. At present, pack warnings cover only 40 per cent product area on one side allowing retailers to display the other side of the pack to escape the law and its intent.
Even as civil society urged Health Minister JP Nadda not to bow to industry pressure, Nadda said the government was “sticking to its stand on curbing tobacco use and had only deferred the pictorial warnings till the parliamentary committee finalises its report.
“The committee has asked for more time. So, we have held the warnings till it finishes its deliberations. There’s no question of watering down on our anti-tobacco stand,” Nadda said.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 requires the government to propose harsher anti-tobacco pictorial health warnings every year and allows industry three to six months to comply with those warnings. Thus, the October 15, 2015 notification was to come into force from April 1.
The committee has not only managed to get the notification deferred, but its chairman Dilip Gandhi has also demanded a study on Indians to prove that tobacco leads to cancer — a demand which has shocked the medical fraternity.
The committee has also gone ahead and fixed April 12 for a meeting with ‘bidi’ workers’ groups in Kolkata. The ministry will be represented at that meeting as part of the consultative process with stakeholders as Dilip Gandhi had demanded.

 

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