The Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have written to PM Narendra Modi, who is on a tour to the country, urging Modi to implement the move to introduce 85 per cent pictorial warnings on packaging of tobacco products.
In a letter routed through the High Commission of India in Canada and signed by president of the cancer society Pamela Fralick and CEO of the foundation David Sculthorpe, the two groups have urged Modi to resist “lobbying by the tobacco industry”.
Canada was the first country to implement pictorial health warnings in 2001. In 2012, the size of the warnings was increased from 50 per cent to 75 per cent.
“Pictorial warnings are especially important for people who are illiterate. The tobacco industry in India has been lobbying your government in opposition to these new larger warnings. We strongly urge you to resist this lobbying. The tobacco industry in India is using the same lobbying tactics and the same misinformation about job loss that the tobacco industry previously used in Canada,” the letter said.
India had, during the tenure of Dr Harsh Vardhan as Health Minister, issued a notification on October 15, 2014, raising the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 per cent to 85 per cent with effect from April 1.
The notification, however, was kept in abeyance after a House panel said in an “interim” report, presented before Parliament in March, that it had yet to conduct stakeholder consultations at all levels and until it’s done, the order should be kept on hold.