The central health ministry has delayed the revision of pictorial warnings on cigarette and tobacco packets till 2012, causing widespread anger among activists and health campaigners.
According to the ministry notification issued Dec 20, the existing pictorial warnings will continue and any revision will come into force only after two years.
"The specific health warning on tobacco packets shall be rotated every two years from the date of notification of the rule," the health ministry said.
The revision was originally to be implemented and new warnings put on packets Dec 1, 2010, but was then delayed.
This has sent a wave of dissatisfaction among activists.
"This is the final act of betrayal across the board to one billion Indians," Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, executive director of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), a social group, said in a statement Wednesday.
"The civil society and public health advocates are deeply distressed and concerned by the government notification which confirms that the earlier, weak pictorial health warnings of the lung X-ray and diseased lungs (on cigarette packets) and the scorpion (on the chewing tobacco packets) will continue till 2012," Mukhopadhyay said.
"The obvious question is why was the earlier notification of implementation effective Dec 1 retained for 20 days," she asked.