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Docs urge PM for new pictorial warnings on tobacco products

Published on: Mar 26, 2016, 10:03 PM
Docs urge PM for new pictorial warnings on tobacco products
A shopkeeper selling tobacco products in Kolkata. Photo: Thinkstock
New Delhi, March 26

As many as 653 doctors and office-bearers of medical societies across the country have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement the new set of pictorial warning on tobacco product packages from April 1, to save millions of lives.

Doctors, cutting across specialties, in a letter, requested the Prime Minister to step in to prevent "powerful tobacco lobby" from subverting the anti-tobacco measures of the government.

"The country is 136th in the qualitative ranking of the pictorial warning on tobacco products. Large pictorial warning on tobacco packets is the most cost effective strategy to prevent youngsters from initiating use and provokes current users to quit the habit.

"We the doctors of India urge you to reject the recommendations of Committee on Subordinate Legislation (CoSL) that aims to promote tobacco industry rather than save innocent Indians from falling prey to this fatal addiction.

Effective pictorial warnings is all about awareness and it is being wrongfully equated with ban on tobacco," the letter said.

They quoted the Prime Minister's Facebook post on May 31, 2014, "Let's pledge to spread awareness on the risks of tobacco consumption & work to reduce tobacco consumption in India. Tobacco not only affects those consuming it but also people around. By saying no to tobacco, let us lay the foundation of a healthier India."

Dilip Acharya, Chairman of National Cancer Control Committee of Indian Medical Association, said, "In a country where vast majority of users are less literate, effective pictorial warning carries tremendous value.

"It is disheartening to note that the Parliamentary Committee has recommended a reduction in the size of the pictorial health warnings, especially since tobacco is linked to several debilitating and terminal diseases. Large and graphic health warnings, when repeatedly seen by children, will raise awareness about its effects," Acharya said.

Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor and Surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, who has also signed the petition, said, "The FB message of Modi ji shows his personal commitment for this important public health issue. Plethora of medical evidence has proven beyond doubt that tobacco is the only consumer product that has no good use except causing disease, disability and death. We are very hopeful that he will do the best for the health of the nation."

"We now look to the Health Minister to continue his crusade against tobacco and implement the 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on both sides of tobacco packages on April 1, as planned, to save the Indian youth and children from tobacco initiation and addiction," Harit Chaturvedi Chairman, Max Institute Of Oncology and Director, Surgical Oncology at Max Healthcare. — PTI