Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC) in India have urged to govt for larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs

In a rigorous advocacy drive, 65 organizations, part of the Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC) in India have urged the Union Health Ministry to notify a date to implement larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and other tobacco products.

"It is painful to see that the rules prescribing 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products has been kept in abeyance for the last one month pursuant to an interim observation of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation (Lok Sabha) in its fourth report dated March 16.

"The delay of each day is an opportunity lost for the Government to save 3500 Indians dying and preventing 5500 youth from taking up tobacco use every day. The price of the status quo, thus, is way too high and the losses colossal," the AFTC members said in their letter to Union Health Minister J P Nadda.

"The observations of the Committee's interim report go beyond the purpose and intent of the rules, thus impacting the parent law (COTPA) and overstepping its remit as a Committee on Subordinate Legislation. We urge your kind office to withdraw the suspension of the Packaging and Labelling Amendment Rules 2014 with immediate effect," they added.

According to a 2014 report by the Canadian Cancer Society, 'The Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report 2014', India is ranked 136th among 198 countries listed according to the size of their tobacco warnings.

With implementation of larger pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent size of space on cigarette packs and tobacco products, India will join Thailand where also 85 per cent of space on tobacco products is covered with warnings, making it top rank in the list of 198 countries that warn smokers about the hazards of smoking through graphic pictures on cigarette packages.

In Australia, it is 82.5 per cent and in Uruguay, it 80 per cent.

AFTC is a coalition of 67 pan-India NGOs which has been involved in multiple activities, for advancing tobacco control and public health in India