Jail term for not showing pictorial warnings on cigarette packs

September 2nd, 2009 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) The union health ministry Wednesday warned tobacco producers that they could face jail terms up to two years for the fist offence and for up to five years subsequently if their cigarette packs do not carry pictorial warning or have it in less than the prescribed 40 percent of space.
“It may also be brought to notice of the public that violation of the law by the tobacco manufacturers is a punishable offence with imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to Rs.5,000, or with both,” a ministry statement said.

The statement said that for a subsequent offence the quantum of punishment will be up to five years of jail term or fine of Rs.10,000 or both.

Similarly, authorities said that sellers and distributors of such tobacco packs also are liable to be punished, with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to Rs.1,000, or both.

If the distributors continue to sell these packs without pictorial warnings, they may face jail term up to two years or fine of Rs.3,000.

In a recent survey by anti-tobacco groups, it was found that even 60 days after the law on pictorial warnings came into force, a majority of the tobacco packs either do not display any pictorial warnings or the warnings displayed are not in conformity with the rules.

The survey found that the size of the pictorial warning is much smaller than the government designated 40 percent of the space on the pack. Of the 60 products analysed, 25 brands of ‘gutka’, 10 brands of ‘khaini’ (both chewing tobacco) and two brands of ‘bidi’ (leaf rolled cigarelloes) carry smaller warnings.

At least five cigarette brands and four chewing tobacco brands have misleading descriptions on the pack.

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