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Cigarette Manufacturers In India Suspend Production Over New Health Warning Rule On Packs

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The Indian Government has brought into effect a new rule wherein 85 percent of the cigarette box's packaging should depict graphical health warnings. This is a dramatic increase from the earlier prescribed 20 percent. The rule is effective from April 1.

In accordance of this newly instated health warning rule, leading Cigarette Manufacturers have suspended production for a day. The industry fears law-obstructing practices of cigarette production and hence the callout for a halt.

"Owing to ambiguity on the policy related to revision of graphic health warning on tobacco product packs, the members are unable to continue manufacturing cigarettes from April 1," said the Tobacco Institute of India (TII) in a statement.

This suspension has been estimated to cause a considerable loss for the tobacco industry in the lines of $53 million a day. Apparently, in the Country's capital, cigarette packs are still being sold even after the new rule had kicked in.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society's statistical information in 2014, India ranked low at the 136th place among a total of 198 countries in terms of implementing package warnings to dissuade smokers.

Earlier, a parliamentary committee on Subordinate Legislation finds the mandate a little severe and suggested that the warning message should alternately occupy just 50 percent of the space on both sides of the pack. This recommendation received a lot of backlash and was counterattacked by health experts and lawmakers alike.

"The committee is of the view that in order to have a balanced approach, the warning on cigarette packets should be 50 percent on both sides of the principal display area instead of 85 percent of the principal display area as it will be too harsh and result in the flooding of illicit cigarettes in the country," said the committee in the report.

However, the Government didn't heed the committee's suggestion and ruled in favor of the larger pictorial coverage of cigarette packs. The health warning rule has been finally initiated after a yearlong wait.

Statistically, BMJ Global Health states that cigarette smoking leads to about 1 million deaths of its people every year, just in India alone.

Photo: Marius Mellebye | Flickr

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