SC refuses to stay new amended rules on health warning for tobacco products

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today refused to stay the operation of new amended rules of the Union Health Ministry directing the manufacturers to have graphic warning images on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products and helpline numbers for those who wanted to quit the habit.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud refused to grant interim stay on Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Second Amendment Rules, 2018, which would come into effect from September 1.

The new rules stipulated that two images depicting the manifestation of cancer, as a specified health warning, would appear on the package consecutively during the rotation period with an interregnum period of 12 months.
During the hearing, the bench and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the manufacturers, entered into a debate on the matter.

When Rohtagi said the people should have the right to choice and the new rules violated that right, the bench responded saying the “people also have the right to informed choice.” It added that if the pictorial warnings provided the information, then there was no harm.

Assailing the new rules, Rohatgi again said “If one eats chocolates, they run the risk of becoming diabetic which may lead to glaucoma.”
To this, the bench said “eating chocolates does not create diabetes. The analysis is wrong. If you have diabetes, then you should abstain from chocolate.”
The tobacco firms, represented by Rohatgi, have approached the court against the recent Health Ministry rules.

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