Beginning tomorrow, all tobacco products will have to carry pictorial warnings on the front of the pack in a bid to discourage their consumption.
Rejecting reservations of tobacco companies, the products will have to clearly display a scorpion and lungs as pictorial warnings. The picture should cover at least 40 per cent of the principal display area of the pack.
The products cannot carry any message that directly or indirectly promotes a specific tobacco brand or tobacco usage in general, the Health Ministry had said earlier this month.
The government order had come despite stiff resistance by tobacco manufacturers.
The government had in August last year asked the manufacturers of cigarette, bidi and gutka products to display a skull-and-bone sign and a warning saying "tobacco smoking kills" on the packets so as to sensitise the public against smoking and consuming these items.
However, it could not be implemented at that time. Then the government fixed December one as the deadline.
The deadline was again missed after a meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM) chaired by then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee decided to further defer the deadline to May 31. The manufacturers had lobbied for the postponement of the deadline.
Now the warnings will come into effect from May 31, 2009, the Ministry had said in the announcement. The government has already passed the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, which says there should be pictorial warning on the tobacco products.
India has also signed and ratified the WHO-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which enlists key strategies for reduction in demand and supply of tobacco products. The WHO-FCTC mandates that all the signatory countries should display pictorial health warnings on the pack of tobacco products.
The government's step assumes significance as majority of the consumers of tobacco are illiterates and semi-literates. Pictorial warnings are very cost effective and sustainable means of communicating the health risks associated with tobacco usage to the consumers.
Government of India
Ministry of Health and family Welfare
Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi
Dated 27th May, 2009
Subject: Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packing and Labelling) Rules 2008
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and labeling) Rules 2008 were notified vide notification G.S.R. 182 (E) dated 15th March 2008 under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (34 of 2003) and which are scheduled to come into effect from 31st May 2009 vide notification S.O. 2815 (E) dated 28th November 2008.
All the cigarette and other tobacco product packages manufactured on or after 31st May 2009 shall bear the specified health warning and other requisites, as mentioned under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules 2008, and no tobacco products will be cleared by the concerned authorities form the manufacturing premise unless and until it bears the specified Health Warning as prescribed in the Rules.
It is further clarified that as per the notification dated 3rd May 2009 GSR 305(e), the definition of “Package” means any type of pack in which cigarette and other tobacco product is packaged for consumer sale but shall not include wholesale, semi wholesale or poora packages if such packages are not intended for consumer use.”
You are also requested to take steps to liquidate the stocks manufactured prior to 31st May 2009, at the earliest and ensure compliance.
Under Secretary of the Government of India
1. Director, the Tobacco Institute of India
2. 2. Shri. Anil Rajput, Vice-President, ITC Limited
3. Shri Rajnikant P. Patel, President, All India Bidi Industry Federation
4. President, Zafrani Zarda & Pan Masala Association of India
5. Pataka Industries Private Limited
1. PS to JS(BKP)
2. PS to Dir (AKP)