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Posted at: Mar 13, 2015, 12:18 AM; last updated: Mar 12, 2015, 11:40 PM (IST)

Tobacco industry not serious about issuing health warnings: VHAI

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 12

Amid apprehensions that the new pictorial warnings on all tobacco products may be disregarded by various players, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) on Thursday said the tobacco industry is making attempts to scuttle the implementation of the new health warnings.

“The industry is falsely claiming that livelihoods of workers will be affected as their jobs will be lost if new pictorial warnings are introduced. This is a misleading image that the industry is trying to create in front of the government, as pictorial warnings are not going to affect livelihoods of the workers. It will only inform, especially the poor who are illiterate, encourage and support tobacco users in their decision to give up the use of tobacco. The warnings also intend to reach non-users, including children and young people, to discourage tobacco intake,” VHAI, an organisation fighting against the consumption of tobacco, said in a statement issued here.

“It is shocking that the industry is tarnishing India’s global image by sending misleading information and putting pressure on the government to derail the process of implementation of the new pictorial health warning and bring down India’s global pictorial health warnings ranking to 136. The tobacco companies have been given more than ample time to ensure the neimage w picture warnings on tobacco packs,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Executive Director, VHAI.

Interestingly, the depiction of new pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products has generated interesting trends among various countries in south Asia.

Notably, all packets of tobacco products in India have to use 85 per cent of the surface areas on both sides to graphically and literally represent the statutory warning. Beginning April 1, 2015, every tobacco product will carry on both sides pictorial depiction of throat and mouth cancer and a message in English, Hindi or any Indian language.

The Government of India on October 15, 2014, announced the new pictorial health warnings for tobacco products that have made India the global leader in pack warnings.

The issue has assumed much significance as according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, released by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, 26.6 per cent of the state population is using tobacco products.

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