Tobacco packs will now have new pictorial health warnings


A fresh set of 85% pictorial health warnings, depicting ill-effects of consuming tobacco, on packages of tobacco products, were implemented from Saturday, April 1.

The Union health ministry had notified the new specified health warnings, covering 85% of the principal display area on all tobacco product packages, which have been in use since April 1, 2016.

As per the rules, during the rotation period of 2 years, a set of images warning consumers were to be displayed on all tobacco product packages and each of the images were to appear consecutively on the package for a period of one year.

All tobacco products manufactured on or after April 1, 2017, will have to display the new images.

“Violation... is a punishable offence with imprisonment or fine as prescribed in section 20 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003,” read the health ministry notification.

Tobacco is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) that are responsible for 26% of deaths in India. About 275 million of India’s adult population uses tobacco in some form or the other. Tobacco-attributable diseases and death are preventable and 20% of premature mortality related to CVDs occurs due to tobacco use.

The health ministry has launched mass campaigns to generate awareness among people regarding products that have negative health impact. The ministry also recently wrote to the ministry of railways, requesting not to advertise such products, as Indian Railways are planning to brand trains and stations to augment revenues.

The health ministry expressed its concern that such initiative can be used by the industry to promote products such as alcohol, tobacco, food containing high fats, sugar and salt, sugar sweetened beverages, including aerated and non-aerated beverages that are not good for health.

The letter highlights that the indirect, surrogate or illegal advertisement of alcohol, tobacco products, as well as unhealthy food products that can increase the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a matter of concern.

In 2013, the four common NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, accounted for 3.1 million premature deaths constituting 55% of the mortality in that year in the age group at 30-69 years.


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