Public Health Gets a Boost by the New Tobacco Control Notification
According to the latest Government of India notification announcing the “Cigarettes and other tobacco products (Packaging and labeling) rules 2006,” tobacco companies wouldn’t be able to dupe customers by labeling cigarettes as “Light” “Mild,” “Low tar,” “Slim” or “Safe.”
Mr. Hemant Goswami, the chairman of Burning Brain Society and a leading public health activist expressing his jubilation over the initiative and informed that the new rules go much beyond the initially planned picture warning on one third of the tobacco pack and now instead prescribes that at least fifty percent of the principal display area of the tobacco pack must contain the specified picture displaying the harm of tobacco along with a skull and bone sign and the warning text. Hemant informed that initially four such pictorial warnings have been notified. The tobacco companies are required to rotate these warnings every twelve months or at such intervals as may be decided by the Government.
Dr. Rajesh Kashyap a medical specialist was equally enthusiastic about the move to ban deceptive marketing of tobacco by labeling them as mild, light, low tobac, etc. There was no such thing as light or mild cigarette and it’s only a marketing gimmick to project that such cigarettes pose less risk. On the contrary it has been found that more cancers were associated with cigarettes labeled as low on tobacco mainly because the smokers tend to inhale deeper and longer to maintain the same levels of nicotine kick, Dr. Kashyap clarifies.
However everyone was not so happy, a few tobacco control activists expressed some concerns on the quality of one of the prescribed pictures. Some felt that the child shown in one of the prescribed warning appears to be too healthy and does not convey the message. Downplayed such objections, Mr. Hemant said that it was a minor matter because the rules empower the health ministry to replace or add any new picture. So if any picture was found to be less effective it could be changed anytime. “What is important is that for the first time all forms of tobacco shall have to carry a powerful and effective warning. This is a highly laudable development as till now only cigarettes were supposed to carry a minor written warning and according to the 1975 cigarettes act, till date other forms of tobacco were under no legal obligation to carry any form of warning,” Hemant concluded.
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