Taking a stand against tobacco and the existing warnings on cigarette packets, 653 doctors and seven medical associations from across India have become signatories to a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister J P Nadda, seeking implementation of the new pictorial warnings on packs of tobacco products from April 1.
The move comes after a report tabled by the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation (CoSL) stated that pictorial warnings should be reduced to 50 per cent of the display area from 85 per cent, which was proposed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Currently, the warnings cover 40 per cent of the product package area.
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The letter, addressed to Modi, read: “A series of events subsequently has forced the public health community to believe that the powerful tobacco lobby has overshadowed your personal commitment to make India healthier. The latest such event being the recommendations of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation to delay and dilute the notification for pictorial warning.”
The new pictorial warning signs were to be implemented from April 1. The parliamentary committee was, however, of the view that the size of the warning should be reduced.
According to Sanjay Seth, chief of an anti-tobacco campaign, 10 lakh Indians die every year because of tobacco.