'Larger pictorial warning have little impact on smoking habit'

Mumbai, May 27: Amid a raging debate over larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, over 70 per cent smokers have said it will have little impact on their smoking habit, according to a survey by insurance firm ICICI Lombard.

The government has mandated companies to increase the size of health warnings from the current 20 per cent of the surface of a cigarette packet to up to 85 per cent. The new guidelines were made effective from April 1 this year.


An overwhelming 72 per cent of respondents said that pictorial warnings or plain packaging would have little impact on their smoking habit, it said. The survey found that 41 per cent of the respondents believe that a stricter imposition on banning smoking in public places would be widely appreciated, while only 24 per cent of those surveyed stated that increase in 'sin taxes' would compel smokers to give up the habit.

One of the most alarming findings of the survey was that only 10 per cent of the respondents felt the need to buy a health insurance policy as a measure to combat the problem. "It emphasises that as insurers and as a society, we are yet a long way away from spreading full awareness about the ill-effects of smoking," ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Chief - Underwriting (claims and reinsurance), Sanjay Datta said.

Work-related stress (35 per cent) and peer-pressure (38 per cent) were among the chief reasons for people to take up smoking, with 49 per cent of the respondents stating it has become a habit hard to quit. Besides, 20 per cent of the respondents felt that smoking was 'just another habit' which, in moderation, should not cause any problems.

Moreover, in a worrisome trend, 53 per cent of the respondents stated they are exposed to some part of passive smoking on a daily basis, with a higher percentage (80 per cent) getting exposed at least once a week. ICICI Lombard conducted the nationwide survey in the 22-45 age group, to which they received over 1,000 responses.


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