Mumbai, Oct 18 (UNI) After taking into account the opposition raised by the tobacco industry, the Government has decided to make it mandatory from December 1 that packets of all tobacco products, including imported, will carry photographs of oral cancer patients and babies affected by passive smoking.
Despite the provision for pictorial warnings and notification specifying the details of the representation, the Ministry approved of the law with these pictorial warnings from December 1 onwards.
Dr P C Gupta, director of Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, an organisation dedicated to improving public health in India and other developing countries, yesterday said ''Tobacco product warning label requirements are now crystal clear. In adherence to the law, tobacco sellers should ensure that from December 1, they sell only those tobacco products that display warning labels.
''Excuses like unclear instructions, inability to change the machinery quickly and excessive old stock, which the tobacco industry has used in every country that has introduced warning labels, should be recognised exactly for what they are - excuses.
The industry should not get any leeway,'' he said.
Research indicates that over 250 million people in the country use tobacco products like gutkha, cigarettes and beedis. Tobacco kills at least 10 lakh people in India every year, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In India , one in two men and one in seven women use tobacco, which accounts for 40 per cent of all cancers.
Tobacco products are available in various forms across the country. For instance, 'mishri' (roasted and pounded tobacco) is popular in Maharashtra; 'gul' in Northeastern states including Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, UP and Uttaranchal; 'bajjar' is widely used by women in Gujarat; and 'gudhaku' is in use in Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Another variety like the creamy snuff is in popular use amongst children in Goa, informed Dr Gupta.