“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.”
If you live by what Mark Twain said, prepare for nightmares. The government’s order regarding pictorial warning on packs of all tobacco products came into effect on Sunday. But the new packs were not available immediately.
Most cigarette stores and paan shops in the city were yet to receive the packs with pictorial warnings, but the curiosity among smokers was hard to miss on Sunday.
“People have been making enquiries since morning about the new cigarette packs, but I am yet to receive them,” said Mahendra Kumar who runs a prominent paan shop near Odeon Cinema in Connaught Place.
Lokesh Gupta of Gulzari Lal & Sons, a wholesale dealer of cigarettes and soft drinks in Bengali Market, said it may take three weeks before the new packs hit the market.
“The new packs will come only after the distributors clear the old stock,” he said. “About the pictures, I am not too sure if they can really discourage tobacco consumption.”
Dinesh Kapor, a businessman in Bengali market, was out to have a look at the new cigarette packs at a local paan shop.
He believes the new packs, with pictures of scorpions and diseased lungs, will convey the health hazards of tobacco products more strongly.
“I am a chain smoker and have tried to stop smoking several times, but in vain,” Kapoor said. “But surely I will not be comfortable carrying these packs home with such scary pictures as they could have a negative impact on my six-year-old son.”
Rahul Kumar, who runs Chaurasia Paan Bhandar in West Patel Nagar, was also eagerly waiting for the new packets.
He believes the new pictorial warning may affect his business.
“I have already spoken to my distributor and asked him to deliver the new cigarette packs as soon as he receives them,” he said.
According to an estimate, tobacco causes 8 lakh deaths and 1.5 lakh cancer cases in India every year.
In August last year, the government had asked manufacturers of cigarette, bidi and gutkha products to prominently display a skull-and-bone sign along with the warning - ‘tobacco smoking kills’.
However, it could not be implemented at the time because of stiff resistance from tobacco manufacturers.