Survey reveals facts behind the pictorial warnings on tobacco products. New rules has not affected tobacco farmers’ life or livelihood.
17 September 2016 Bengaluru: The new rule mandating 85 percent pictorial warning on tobacco products, introduced by Government of India beginning April 1, 2016, in the larger interest of public health, is yielding good results. A recent survey on the compliance of the new pictorial warning in different states of the country has shown good indications. In Karnataka, the survey has compliance of 70% in cigarette products with maximum number of brands already in tune with the new pictorial warning rule.
Photo 4 - Freedom Fighter Sri H S Doreswamy addressing the conference
It can be noted here that the new rules stipulate that the specified health warning shall cover at least 85 percent of the principal display area of the package, of which 60 percent shall cover pictorial health warning and 25 percent textual health warning and shall be positioned on the top edge of the package. The Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bengaluru conducted the survey with Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), Niche and other organizations and found that 55% smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco) packs displayed new pictorial warnings as per the norms and when it comes to beedi packs the compliance is 12%.
In a related press conference held on Saturday, September 17, 2016, health experts and members associated with the survey, shared the findings in the presence of diverse stakeholders. Shri. HS Doreswamy said it is sad to note that every third Indian adult uses some form of tobacco and about 10 lac Indians die from tobacco-related diseases each year in India. Young children and the illiterate will benefit from such large pictorial health warnings as they will be forced to think again before using these deadly products.
Shri UT Khader, Minister Food & Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department. Government of Karnataka said tobacco is the only consumer product that has no good use except causing disease, disability and death. Large pictorial warnings is a good measure to help consumers make an informed choice. We must work toward creating a ‘Swasthya Bharat’ for our future generations.
Shri. Suresh Kumar ex-law Minister of Karnataka commended the Government of India and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for effectively implementing the 85% pictorial warnings on tobacco products, especially in light of the upcoming WHO Conference of Parties (COP) to be hosted in India.
Shri. Puttaswamy Gowda from Bharatiya Kisan Sangha said “Farmers in our country are called Anna Daata and labourers the work force. We have greatest respect for them and also stand to protect them. However, it is sad that some farmers and laborers on the contrary contribute to the deaths of several people. A few lakh farmers and laborers contribute to more than 10 lakh deaths each year in our country and crores of diseases and illness owing to tobacco. While on one side it’s an important concern that these tobacco farmers and laborers MAY SUFFER; it would be unjustifiable to ignore lakhs of patients and their families who have ALREADY SUFFERED and lives ruined with heart attacks, lung problems such as TB or cancer.
Shri. Mallikarjun Jakati from Karnataka Krishika Sangha added “Our farmer brothers and sisters should not fall prey to the false arguments made by the tobacco industry, it has been shown by studies internationally that even with the best tobacco control measures the reduction is very gradual and will not affect our livelihoods immediately. In the long run tobacco farmers can gradually shift to safer alternative livelihoods.”
Dr US Vishal Rao, member of Karnataka Government's High Power Committee on Tobacco Control said that the beedi industries had opposed the new rule saying, it can't be printed on beedi packs as the shape of the beedi packets are quite complicated to comply with rule. “However, 12% of compliance has proved the 85% warnings can be printed on beedi packs as well and other beedi companies can’t give excuses on the same,” he added.
Dr Pragati Hebbar from the Institute of Public Health said the. “Data collected from this study demonstrates that contrary to the claim of major tobacco companies printing the new 85% warnings is practically feasible on ALL tobacco products. The evidence is indisputable and shows that tobacco manufacturers are capable of complying with all the provisions of the government mandate, which includes a picture and the text message “WARNING Smoking causes throat/mouth cancer;” located on top in both front and back of the pack; covering 85 percent of the principal display area with a minimum size of 3.5cm wide and 4 cm high; text in English, Hindi or local Indian language and health warning cannot be covered in any manner when the pack is sealed or opened.” she added.
Health experts welcome the move on pictorial warnings again and said that the same will help in creating awareness in terms of educating people about the harms of tobacco consumption.
Mr Senthil Kumar a cancer survivor from Voice of Tobacco Victims who has initiated thanking petition on change.org appreciating the step taken by the government regarding 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products said “It is really happy to see vast public support for this cause, we have crossed morethan 10000 signatures for the petition.” He also urged the governments for strict implementation.
Good results at National arena too:
The survey has found that at the national level too, the compliance levels are good, with 68% of cigarette packs falling in the ambit of the new rule. In terms of smokeless tobacco products, 48% of packs have showed compliance and when it comes to beedi packs, the compliance is 16%.