NEW DELHI: Pictorial health warning on packages of tobacco products will become bigger from April 1 next year.
A notification to this effect was issued today by the Health Ministry saying that all tobacco products will carry warnings covering 85 per cent of the package area from April 1 next year, up from 40 per cent at present. This came a day before a hearing on this matter is scheduled to take place in the Rajasthan High Court.
"The Health Ministry has issued the notification. As per the notification, 85 per cent pictoral warning has to be there and it will come into effect from April 1, 2016," a senior Union Health Ministry official told PTI.
PTI is also in possession of the notification signed by Joint Secretary K C Samria. The Rajasthan High Court had on September 9 ordered the Centre to ensure that larger pictorial warnings are carried on all tobacco products by September 29.
He said that the Ministry will seek six months as the producers of the products need to make adjustments to their products.
In March, the government had indefinitely delayed the implementation of bigger pictorial warnings, pending the decision of a parliamentary committee which was examining the issue.
The committee is looking into the contentious issue of amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, to increase the size of pictorial warnings from the current 40 per cent to 85 per cent as recommended earlier.
The increase in the size of pictorial warnings was to come into effect from April 1 this year but the deadline was extended by the government since the committee was looking into the issue.
Earlier, a controversy had erupted after BJP MPs Dilip Gandhi, Shyam Charan Gupta and Ram Prasad Sarmah had claimed there is no clear proof yet linking cigarette puffing and cancer and there are "nil" effects of smoking.
While Gandhi, who is the head of the parliamentary panel, had said that there was an Indian study to show the link between tobacco usage and cancer, he said he could produce a lot of people who are chain smokers of beedi and have had no disease till date.