Government diluting tobacco warning under pressure: Ramadoss

May 2nd, 2009 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Anbumani Ramadoss Chennai, May 2 (IANS) Former central health minister Anbumani Ramadoss Saturday alleged the government had succumbed to pressure from the tobacco and cigarette manufacturers’ lobby to dilute the pictorial warning specifications on cigarette packets.
Addressing the media here, he said: “I understand the government has decided to have pictorial warning of 40 percent only on retail cigarette and beedi packets and not on other bulk packages.”

According to him,the minimum pictorial warning sign on one side of the packet is 30 percent internationally. In India, it is going to be 20 percent on one side as the government has decided on 40 percent norm.

“I had recorded in the minutes of the meeting of Group of Ministers chaired by (External Affairs) Pranab Mukherjee held on Feb 3 that no decision on pictorial warning was taken. The minutes of that meeting seems to be changed after I quit the government,” he alleged.

With the country in poll mode, he queried the necessity of the government in taking a policy decision changing the cigarettes and tobacco packing rules, violating the electoral conduct code and also when a case on this issue is pending in the Supreme Court.

Exempting gunny bags and other bulk tobacco packaging modes is contravention of the existing laws, Ramadoss added.

Images of skull and bones, scorpion (the zodiac sign for cancer), lungs are some of the pictorial warning options. The new rule is expected to come into effect from May 31 onwards.

Expressing fear of large scale violence in the seven Lok Sabha constituencies (six in Tamil Nadu and one Puducherry) in which his party Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) is contesting, he alleged opposing parties had roped in 1,000 criminals to disrupt polling.

Confident of the AIADMK-led alliance in which PMK is one of the constituent would sweep the Lok Sabha polls, Ramadoss said: “There is a wave against the ruling DMK party in the state. If elections are held today, our alliance will win 36 seats out of 40 (39 in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry).”

Asked about the remaining four seats and how the alliance partners are going to win over the voters he said: “That is our poll strategy which cannot be disclosed now.

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