Pictorial Warnings' implementation again postponed

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Mumbai, Dec 4 (UNI) The implementation of the Pictorial Warnings Law on tobacco products that was to come into force from December 1 has again been postponed.

The group of Ministers, that had taken the decision to put gory images on tobacco packs in order to create awareness about the ill-effects of tobacco, has decided to assess the law once again owing to pressure from tobacco manufacturing companies, according to a health expert here.

The tobacco lobby has cited various reasons for being unable to adhere to the implementation date of December 1. One of the most common reasons given by the ''bidi'' industry is that the ''bidi'' packages are too small to print the graphic warnings as they would consume most of the printing space leaving little space for brand names and manufacturer's name.

Besides, the employment issue is also one of the strong reasons that the tobacco lobby has been holding forth.

Speaking to media yesterday, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health Director Dr P C Gupta said, ''Tobacco manufacturers do not want to tell the truth to people because it may affect their profits. If they are concerned about the plight of the workers let them provide health insurance and other benefits to the workers that they are entitled by law.'' The Union Health Ministry is seeking four months time for implementation of the law. The case was to be reviewed by Shimla High Court on November 27. However, the hearing has been postponed to December 13.

HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth), an NGO engaged in youth centric tobacco control awareness and advocacy campaigns, Director Monika Arora said, ''This delay is disappointing for those interested in promoting public health.

People involved in delaying this effective health awareness measure must realise that delay of each day in implementing this important provision translates to 5,500 Indian youth succumb to tobacco addiction, daily.'' The new rule mandated the health warning on tobacco products to carry images of cancerous tumors. The warning was to occupy 50 per cent of the packaging area.

UNI

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