NGO protests indifference of GOM on pictorial warning

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Panaji, Mar 1 (UNI) The decision of the Group of Ministers (GOM) not to insist on effective and provocative pictorial warnings on tobacco products smacks of political opportunism, National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) India General Secretary Dr Shekhar Salkar said.

''It is sad to note that the rising death toll has made no impact on the group. It has been proved that pictorial information makes a lasting and effective impact on viewers,'' Dr Salkar said in a release here today.

Our insistence on displaying either the skull and bones graphics or the photograph of a cancer patient was based on the belief that they would make the ignorant consumer more conscious and alert, he said.

''However, the GOM has decided that the products would carry the X-ray of lungs of a cancer patient. This picture will not make any difference to the average consumer, who in any case does not possess the skills to identify the X-ray. For him, it will be nothing more than the usual X-Ray,'' he added.

The GOM was expected to come with a time-bound strategy for the elimination of tobacco production and related industry in the country. It should have set up a deadline, say 20 years, for tobacco farmers to shift to other crops, he said, adding that this shift could have been encouraged by various subsidies.

''Similarly, the industry should have been asked to shift to other pastures. Already, companies like the ITC have ventured into apparel making and sports gear manufacture. This trend should have been encouraged to affect a time bound pull out from tobacco production.

Sadly, the GOM is silent on this count,'' he said.

''The constituents of the group has relented before the pressure of their political kin who are more concerned about their welfare and future than the agony and sufferings of burgeoning cancer patients. It is high time for them to rise above such petty considerations and think in terms of national interests,'' Dr Salkar added.

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