All tobacco products will have bolder pictorial warnings from Friday.
All tobacco products will have bolder pictorial warnings from Friday. Sorting to allay the apprehensions about the warnings, the ministry of health in their recent affidavit filed in the Rajasthan high court has firmly conveyed that 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on both sides of tobacco packets will come into force from April 1, 2016.
Earlier, the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation, examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003, had in their final report said that it will be “too harsh” to have “bolder” pictorial warnings on tobacco products and had suggested the government to have a “balanced approach” by reducing the warnings on cigarette packets to 50 per cent on both sides of the principal display area instead of 85 per cent. Also, for the bidi industry it had asked the government to “re-consider” their decision to cover. However, unrelenting to the pressure, the Union health ministry has decided not to change its course and stayed firm on its notification.
“The manufacturers have been told to clear their stock. All the new manufactured products will bear the new pictorial warnings from tomorrow. There is no change in the decision,” said a senior official in the ministry.
Earlier, the Rajasthan high court had also ordered the government to implement its notification of having warnings covering 85 per cent of the principal display area. “The government is complying with the court’s order to implement the earlier notification,” added the official.
The warnings were deferred in 2015, with the heath ministry putting its notification in abeyance through a corrigendum issued in March 2016, merely a few days before April 1 when the rule was supposed to come into effect, after the committee in its interim report asked for broader discussion with all the stakeholders.
Significantly, the new pictorial warnings have been supported even by the civil society groups and institutions.
In their representations sent to the Centre, nearly 80 per cent expressed their support in favour of bigger pictorial warnings.