The global tobacco epidemic is killing thousands of people worldwide and in India it kills one million Indians every year. There are almost 267 million tobacco users in India. To curb the country’s enormous tobacco epidemic, a series of strong actions have been taken at both the national and state level. Among the various steps taken, one of the most effective one has been that of including large, graphic warning or pictorial warning on cigarette and bidi packs.
Moving in the right direction, the Health Ministry’s decision of replacing the existing images on tobacco products and replacing with a new set of 85 percent pictorial health warnings for mandatory display on both sides of the packets of cigarettes, bidis, and chewing tobacco with effect from September 1, 2018 has been hailed by one and all.
As per the notification, during the rotation period 2 images of specified health warnings as notified in the schedule shall be displayed on all tobacco product packages and each of the images shall appear consecutively on the package with an interregnum period of 12 months.
For smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco products, the word “TOBACCO CAUSES CANCER” and the word “TOBACCO CAUSES PAINFUL DEATH” shall appear in white font colour on a red background. The Ministry also introduced a ‘Quit Today’ a toll free helpline number “1800-11- 2356” which will appear in white font colour on a black background.
Pictorial health warning is highly effective in a country like India where literacy rate is not too high. These pictures speak volumes that a simple line Cigarette Smoking is Injurious to Health will do. India’s current international ranking for package warnings is no. 3 rd in the world, as outlined in the October 2016 Canadian Cancer Society Report, Cigarette Package Health Warning International Status Report that ranked 205 countries worldwide. The entire world applauded this progressive step taken by India in tobacco control and saving human lives. Implementing 85 percent pictorial warnings was a landmark step taken by the Government of India. Shri J.P. Nadda was awarded by the World Health Organization for this major reform in public health.
Dr.Shekhar Salkar , Head of Department, Oncology, Manipal Hospital Goa and President National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication also reiterated that that the new graphical health warning is much more effective deterrent for younger generation who initiate tobacco use. In a country like India, where people use several languages and dialects, the pictorial warning transcends the language and, in many cases, also the illiteracy barrier.
The recently released Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17 by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had put to rest all apprehensions about the effectiveness of the warnings, since 62% of cigarette smokers and 54% of bidi smokers shared that they had thought of quitting because of the 85 percent pictorial warnings on the packets. And 46% of smokeless tobacco users thought of quitting because of the warnings on smokeless tobacco products says Ashim Sanyal, COO Consumer VOICE.
Consumer VOICE and its state partners applauded this move of the Government which is evident
from the relevant media coverage:
State :Punjab and Union Territory :Chandigarh
THE TIMES OF INDIA
DAINIK SAVERA TIMES
- UNI India –Consumer VOICE welcomes 85 % pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets
- Times of India: NGO welcomes move