New pictorial warnings on tobacco products in effect

December 2nd, 2010 - 12:53 am ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Dec 1(IANS) Tobacco products in the country must carry a new set of pictorial warnings depicting a cancer-stricken mouth from Dec 1, a notification by the ministry of health and family welfare said Wednesday.

Tobacco product retailers and distributors who fail to comply will face legal consequences with a fine and imprisonment under Section 20 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, the notification said.

The fine extends to Rs.1,000, with an imprisonment up to one year or both for those found selling products with the current set of mild and ineffective warnings even after the old stocks are cleared.

With over 274 million adult tobacco users in the country, the move came after strong advocacy by voluntary organisations and health activists.

“After conducting an opinion poll on the effectiveness of the current pictorial health warnings, it was felt that there was an urgent need to replace them with more gory and effective pictures,” said Monika Arora, senior director of NGO Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY).

“This will target the illitrate tobacco users also, who cannot understand written warnings on tobaccco products such as bidis and gutka,” Arora added.

However, the health ministry notification, which makes the new warning operational, still have to get a final approval from the cabinet.

According to ministry sources, the new warning, which was approved by union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad earlier this year, was delayed due to pressure from tobacco lobbies.

In an informal meeting held last month, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had asked the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) to give alternate pictorial warnings as against the picture of mouth cancer.

“The note has been sent to the cabinet for a final approval, however, the new warnings are being made operational from today (Wednesday),” a health ministry official said.

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