NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has sought the Ministry of Law’s views on whether it can allow tobacco manufacturers to sell the remainder of the stocks which have 40 per cent pictorial warnings, even as a government notification saying that 85 per cent of the display area should have pictorial warnings kicked in from the first of this month.
According to the notification, all tobacco products must carry larger pictorial health warnings.
Sources told Express that the MoH has written a letter to the Law Ministry seeking its opinion on whether manufacturers should be allowed to sell the stocks of at least the last three months, which have 40 per cent of their display area covered with the warnings. “The letter had two basic questions, whether the stocks could be allowed to be sold or whether they should be rejected,” a source said. The tobacco industry estimated that the move would result in an estimated daily loss of Rs 350 crore.
Indian cigarette companies have stated that they would shut their factories from April 1 claiming ambiguity in the government’s order to print warning images on 85 per cent of the display area of tobacco packs. The Tobacco Institute of India in a statement had said, “Members of the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), which accounts for more than 98 percent of the country’s domestic sales of duty paid cigarettes in India, have unanimously decided to shut all their cigarette factories with effect from April 1, 2016”.