Will this scare away 6 mn Indian smokers?
From December 1, irrespective of the size, packs of all tobacco products – bidis, cigarettes and chewing tobacco – will have to carry graphic images of diseased lungs and a scorpion warnings, reports Sanchita Sharma.Updated: Sep 10, 2008 00:16 IST
Pictorial warnings will appear on all cigarette and tobacco packs from December 1 to discourage new smokers from getting addicted, especially adolescents, announced health minister Anbumani Ramadoss at the inauguration of the National Tobacco Advocacy Workshop today. The pictorial warnings will follow the ban of smoking in public places from October 2. Hindustan Times first reported the story on August 30.
From December 1, irrespective of the size, packs of all tobacco products – bidis, cigarettes and chewing tobacco – will have to carry graphic images of diseased lungs and a scorpion warnings with the message: Tobacco Kills/Smoking kills. “Forty per cent of all our health problems are tobacco related. It is time to scare tobacco users by highlighting the health hazards,” said Ramadoss.
The other countries that have introduced similar warnings include Canada, Brazil, Thailand and Australia. Warning graphics in Canada have led to a 3 per cent drop in smoking. With 250 million tobacco consumers in India, a similar percentage drop would mean 6 million people giving up smoking.
Ramadoss said the restrictions were aimed at lowering tobacco use among adolescents, with the Global Youth Tobacco Survey showing 13 per cent children between 13 and 16 years of age consumed tobacco in India.
Each district in India will now get Rs 22 lakh to run school and community-based tobacco control programmes. Smoking cessation clinics in 100 medical colleges and district hospitals will also be set up to help people kick tobacco addiction. The Centre plans to have 1,000 such clinics in places across the country in two years.
The government also wants to make it mandatory for manufacturers to mention nicotine and tar content on tobacco packs, but needs to set up labs – five are in the offing – to test levels before going ahead.
To show he means business, Ramadoss has begun by vigorously enforcing the workplace ban in Nirman Bhawan, which houses the health ministry. “I was surprised to discover that the smoke-free workplace ban was not being strictly enforced here (‘Smoking rules flouted in Ramadoss’ backyard’, HT, May 31). Bureaucrats have cracked down on violators and now the ministry is tobacco free,” he says.