NEW DELHI: The Centre has directed that all manufacturers of tobacco products to recall their earlier stock from the market and repackage them complying with the new directives of 85 per cent of packets being covered with pictorial warnings.
In a letter to all state governments, the Union Health Ministry has asked them to tell manufacturers to take back the stock available in the market and repackage them with new pictorial warnings.
According to a health ministry notification, all tobacco products would carry the larger pictorial health warnings from April 1. Earlier, only 40 per cent of the packet was supposed to be covered with pictorial warnings.
Sources in the health ministry said that manufacturers have been asked to take back their stocks, available in the market, and repackage them with new pictorial warnings.
The letter was sent, following a note of advice from the Law Ministry, which had been sought by the health ministry on whether it can allow tobacco manufacturers to sell remainder of the stocks which have 40 per cent pictorial warnings.
The advice had been sought following demands from manufacturers of tobacco products that they be allowed to sell their earlier stock as otherwise they would entail huge losses.
The tobacco industry estimated that the move will result in an estimated daily loss of `350 crore. Indian cigarette companies had 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. However, later they rescinded their decision.
The Union Health Ministry had issued a notification in September last year for prescribing larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products from April 1.
The health ministry notification was supposed to come into effect last year itself, but it was put on hold following an adverse interim report from the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
A parliamentary panel had, however, recommended that the pictorial warnings should cover only 50 per cent of the display areas.