Bengaluru/New Delhi, April 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has favoured bigger pictorial warnings on tobacco products and the health ministry intends to go ahead with 85 percent coverage of the principal display area on beedi, cigarette and chewable tobacco packets of, official sources said on Saturday.
According to the sources, Modi had endorsed larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products and asked Health Minister J P Nadda to appoint a committee to look into the matter.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference in Bengaluru that the government intends to discourage tobacco use.
The finance minister distanced the Bharatiya Janata Party from the comments of party MP Dilip Gandhi that there was no evidence linking tobacco with cancer, and said: "In individual capacity, people can say anything. The government takes measured decisions."
Gandhi is a member of the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation on tobacco.
"A multi-pronged approach will be taken to discourage the use of tobacco. Health Minister J.P. Nadda is here, he will decide," Jaitley said.
The health ministry heeded a recommendation of the committee when it decided to keep in abeyance an October 2014 notification that made it mandatory for all tobacco packets to carry a pictorial warning covering 85 percent of its principal display area.
Meanwhile, sources in the health ministry said the government intended to go ahead with 85 percent coverage as far as pictorial warnings were concerned.
The report submitted by the committee on subordinate legislation is an interim one and the ministry has been requested to keep the decision to implement the 85 percent warnings for the time being till the final report is out, the sources said.
They said that even while deposing before the committee as late as February, the health ministry had favoured 85 percent coverage.