BENGALURU: The recent ruling by the Karnataka High Court which struck down the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, that mandated 85 per cent pictorial warnings on all tobacco products sold in India, and went back to 20 per cent warnings, will affect India’s current international ranking for package warnings.
It will drop to 106 from the currently held rank of 3 as outlined in the October 2016 Canadian Cancer Society Report, Cigarette Package Health Warning International Status Report, which ranked 205 countries worldwide.
However, if the Karnataka HC decision is implemented, it will bring India’s ranking down to 106, a release from Tobacco Free Karnataka said.
This would lead to global embarrassment after having demonstrated the impact of the 85 percent pictorial health warnings on Indians through the recently released findings of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017, the statement said. The current pictorial warnings on both sides of all tobacco packages of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products came into effect in April 2016 upon the direction of Rajasthan High Court and subsequently, Supreme Court of India, and has been in effect for almost two years.
Similar warnings on tobacco packs have been upheld by the courts in other countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, UK, Canada etc.
Dr. Harit Chaturvedi, Chairman, Surgical Oncology, Max Health Care, Delhi, said, “I urge MoHFW to keep its commitment of Swasth Bharat and defend its trend setting decision of having 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on tobacco products, which has made India a global leader and saved lakhs of children and youth from tobacco addiction.”
Facts and figures
The recently released GATS 2016-17 report had put to rest apprehensions about the effectiveness of the warnings, as 62 per cent of cigarette smokers and 54 per cent of bidi smokers said that they had thought of quitting because of the 85 per cent pictorial warnings.
Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products are the most cost-effective tool for educating smokers on health risks. In a country like India, where people use several languages and dialects, the pictorial warning transcends language and in many cases illiteracy barrier.