Business Companies 30 Apr 2016 Tobacco firms may ge ...

Tobacco firms may get 2 months to sell stock with 40 per cent warning

THE ASIAN AGE | TEENA THACKER
Published Apr 30, 2016, 10:18 am IST
Updated Apr 30, 2016, 10:18 am IST
According to the recent notification, all tobacco products must carry “bolder” pictorial health warnings.
Even as the health ministry remained firm on their decision, at many places the old stocks carrying older pictorial warnings were confiscated.
 Even as the health ministry remained firm on their decision, at many places the old stocks carrying older pictorial warnings were confiscated.

New Delhi: In what could be a major relief to tobacco manufactures, the ministry of law has suggested to the ministry of health to give a grace period of two months to tobacco manufacturers for clearing the remainder of the stocks carrying 40 per cent pictorial warnings on tobacco products.

While, the recent government notification, saying that 85 per cent of the display area should have pictorial warnings, came to effect from April 1, the health ministry had recently sought the ministry of law’s opinion on the “disposal of the stock” pending with the manufacturers.

 

“The ministry of law has suggested to give tobacco manufacturers a grace period of two months for clearing their stocks left with them as we had asked them if the manufactueres can be allowed to sell their stocks bearing the earlier warnings. Even as the law ministry opined giving them two months, we have further asked them to clarify their opinion as the existing law does not permit any grace period,” reliable sources disclosed. The health ministry has yet not issued any directive on it.

According to the recent notification, all tobacco products must carry “bolder” pictorial health warnings. However, the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), a lobby group that represents 98 per cent of India’s cigarette industry, “unanimously decided to shut all their cigarette factories with effect from April 1 citing “ambiguity” on the policy related to revision of Graphic Health Warnings on tobacco product packs.

 

Even as the health ministry remained firm on their decision, at many places the old stocks carrying older pictorial warnings were confiscated. “There were also representations from the tobacco industry showing their concern on the remaining stock. We went to the law ministry for their opinion so that the existing stock can be utilised,” added sources.

Meanwhile, consumption of tobacco has been an enormous health and economic burden for India. Data suggests that nearly 10 lakh Indians die annually (about 2,700 daily) from tobacco related diseases. Significantly, 50 per cent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco use. Highest numbers of oral cancer cases in the world occur in India and 90 per cent of these are tobacco related. Tobacco use is a leading cause of tuberculosis related mortality in India. 1,04,500 crore Indian rupees are spent on healthcare costs to treat tobacco related diseases.

 

Interestingly, there is no evidence to suggest that introduction of large warnings ever had any adverse effect on the livelihood of people, while there is ample evidence to prove that millions of people in India face economic and health hardship because of their present engagement in tobacco farming, manufacturing of tobacco products and related work.

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