Implement larger pictorial warning on tobacco products: SC

tobaccoThe Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the tobacco companies to immediately implement larger pictorial warning on tobacco products.

The apex court lifted the stay on the Centre’s order for 85 percent warning granted by the Dharwad Bench of the Karnataka High Court.

The Supreme Court also transferred all cases challenging the tobacco product warning rule to the Karnataka High Court.

The apex court directed the Karnataka High Court to decide the case in eight weeks.

The Supreme Court stated that no order is valid until the matter is fully disposed by the Karnataka High Court.

Karnataka Health Minister U.T. Khader had earlier in his letter to Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda appreciated the Union Government for the steps it has taken to battle the tobacco menace, but demanded that the government should not step back on its decision on the pictorial warnings displayed on the cigarette packs and other tobacco products.

Earlier, the Centre had ordered that tobacco products would carry 85 percent pictorial warnings.

The Health Ministry’s notification of September 24, 2015, for implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, came into force from April 1 onwards. These prescribed larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products.

Earlier, the Health Ministry had made a commitment to the Rajasthan High Court on March 28 this year that all tobacco products manufactured from April1onwards would carry larger pictorial health warnings. (ANI)

HC restrains govt from taking steps against 3 tobacco

HC restrains govt from taking steps against 3 tobacco
HC restrains govt from taking steps against 3 tobacco

The Delhi High Court today restrained till July 16 the city government from taking any coercive action against three tobacco manufacturing firms which have joined several such companies that have challenged the ban on sale of chewable tobacco here from March 30 this year.

Justice V P Vaish while restraining the government from taking any steps against the three companies – Shivam Betelnut Pvt Ltd, Mahalaxmidevi Flavours Pvt Ltd and Rajat Industries Pvt Ltd – till July 16, also issued notice to its Food Safety Commissioner and sought response by that date.

It said that on July 16 the city government will come with instructions on whether high court’s April 8, 2015 restraining order would be applicable to the three companies.

The high court had on April 8 restrained the government from taking any action against sellers till May 20, 2015 and which was thereafter on July 1 extended till August 3, 2015.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government told the court that the only issue was whether chewable tobbaco comes under Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) or Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

The court said, “In the meantime, respondent (Food Safety Commissioner) shall not take any coercive action against the petitioners.”

The three companies, which have challenged the city government’s ban on chewable tobacco, sought parity with the other companies, including Sugandhi Snuff King Pvt Ltd, which got protection against coercive action, saying they are also similarly placed.

Earlier, on May 20, the Delhi government moved an application seeking to vacate the April 8 order by which it was restrained from taking coercive measures against the sale of chewable tobacco in the national capital.

The Delhi government had alleged in its plea that tobacco users are increasing on daily basis and the manufacturers should be stopped from producing products which directly harm the public at large.

Plain packaging for tobacco products

The Union Health Ministry in order to curb use of tobacco products has planned to push for plain packaging.

 Plain packaging could help bring down tobacco usage by heightening the effect of pictorial warnings, said a policy document by Australia-India Institute Taskforce on Tobacco Control released in New Delhi on Monday. According to the plain packaging legislation in Australia, packaging of cigarette and hand-rolled cigarettes cannot have colours, embossing, logos, brand images and promotional information.

 “We have a huge young population addicted to tobacco. Plain packaging, particularly the Australian case study, can be an example for India,” said Shakuntala Gamlin, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

 “Despite inter-ministerial differences, we have been able to flag the issue of tobacco control. We are moving ahead. Let’s see how plain packaging can be introduced in India,” she said.

 The Global Adult Tobacco Survey says India has nearly 274.9 million tobacco users, the third-largest in the world. Tobacco kills nearly one million people every year due to related diseases such as cancer, heart and lung illness.While the document recommends that India can introduce plain packaging as part of the comprehensive approach to combat tobacco use, experts say the country also needs to tighten enforcement and implementation of anti-tobacco laws.

 “The laws have to be stricter and implementation needs to be strong. Government officials need to be sensitised so that they understand the whole tobacco issue,” said Monika Arora, head of health promotion and tobacco control at Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

 “We are going to propose the policy document on plain packaging to the government through a series of consultations and face-to-face meetings. This will be with the key ministries involved — law ministry, health ministry and ministry of trade and commerce,” Ms. Arora.

 The taskforce includes tobacco control experts from PHFI, Nossal Institute of Global Health from Melbourne (Australia) and voluntary organisations International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases and HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth).

 “The tobacco industry uses attractive packaging and aggressive marketing to lure people. India must initiate legislation on plain packaging and ensure implementation of a policy that will have tremendous public health impact,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president, PHFI.

NGO seeks ban on tobacco ads during World Cup

An NGO Monday sought a ban on tobacco advertisements during the cricket World Cup, saying these will have an adverse effect on the minds of the people.

New Delhi-based HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) Monday wrote to International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar on the issue, the group’s communications officer Nikunj Sharma told.

The letter was written by organisation’s senior director Monika Arora, he said.

Given the World Cup fever that has gripped the sub-continent, Indian tobacco giant ITC has commissioned the display of messages like “Beating the Best” or “Grabbing a Flier” to promote its cigarette brands at various points of sale (PoS), he said.

“This is in violation of the tobacco control rules, which say display boards should only list the type of tobacco products available, he said.

“No brand pack shot, brand name of the tobacco product or other promotional message and picture should be displayed on the board,” he added.

“In a country where 5,500 youth experiment with tobacco every day, such advertisements and promotion of cigarettes will strengthen the sport’s association with tobacco use in the minds of youth” according to Sharma.

Arora, in the letter, cited the example how Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, true to his promise and character, refused a mega offer to endorse a liquor brand.

“He has set a classic example of how he believes that cricket has the power to influence the mind and thinking of people of India” Arora wrote.

A study conducted in India has concluded that wrong perceptions about smoking promoted by tobacco sponsorship increased smoking initiation amongst both boys and girls even when they are aware of the risks involved, she said.

HRIDAY is engaged in activities aiming to promote health awareness and informed health activism among school and college students in India since 1992.

It works in collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO).