Monthly Archives: March 2010

Warning space on tobacco packs: India behind several countries

March 29, 2010

Amid a debate on efficacy of pictorial warnings on tobacco products, an analysis shows that such messages cover nearly the entire packet in some Latin American countries and almost half in Thailand and Singapore as against only 40 per cent in India.

While Venezuela and Panama have 100 per cent coverage on front or back, Canada, Urguay, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Iran have 50 per cent.

India is somewhere in the middle with Belgium, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, which have 40 per cent or above coverage of the total package, according to data released by Health Ministry.

The total number of pictograms in use also vary. While Belgium has 42 pictograms in use, Uruguay has 23, Brazil has 29 and Canada has 16. India on the other hand has only three namely the lung, scorpion and the latest one of cancer-affected lips.

As far as rotation of the warnings is concerned, in Singapore and Taiwan it is rotated every 24 months, in Australia, Belgium, New Zealand and Hong Kong every 12 months and in Brazil every five months, the data said.

India has not yet formulated any rotation policy. Elaborate scientific studies have shown that annually the death toll from tobacco-related diseases in India is set to exceed 100,000 by 2010.

Approximately 5,500 adolescents start using tobacco every day, joining the 7.7 million young people under the age of 15, who already regularly use tobacco.

There are World Health Organisation reports suggesting that in the coming years, the global death toll from tobacco may rise to a staggering one billion and upwards.

India brought in pictorial warnings on tobacco packets in October 2008.

The photograph of a cancer-affected mouth will replace the “softer” pictorial warnings of scorpion and lung on cigarette and other tobacco products from June one.

In a notification earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has zeroed in on the picture with a caption saying “Tobacco causes mouth cancer”.

The picture was finalised after the Government in collaboration with NGOs carried out studies in seven states and came to the conclusion that only hard-hitting pictures can have any impact on people used to smoking or chewing tobacco.

The earlier pictorial warnings of lungs and scorpion were notified on October 2, 2008.

The pictorial warnings had been launched in 2008 after a decision by a Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.


Source: The Economic Times (March 28, 2010)


Indian cigarette and gutka packs to carry a cancerous mouth warning

March 12, 2010

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has issued a new pictorial warning for cigarette and tobacco packs. It will come into effect from June 1.

The new picture, notified on March 5, shows a cancerous mouth. The warning reads: “Tobacco causes mouth cancer.”

It replaces the earlier pictures of a scorpion and lungs. The scorpion sign was meant for gutka or chewing tobacco packs, while cigarette packs were to carry diseased lungs.

Now, the mouth cancer warning will be common for both gutka and cigarette packs. The pictorial sign will cover 40 per cent of the pack, as before.

The pictorial warnings were made compulsory from May 31, 2009 under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, following a Supreme Court directive.

As per the rules, the pictograms are to be reviewed and changed every year for better effectiveness.

The Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), which claims to have field-tested the newly notified warning in Orissa, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, says it has been most effective in all these States. The earlier ones were not very effective, the VHAI said in a statement on Wednesday.


Source: The Hindu (March 11, 2010)

UAE To Curb Smoking Habit With Graphic Warnings – Bernama

March 9, 2010

Cigarette packs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may soon carry graphic health warnings as the government moves to persuade smokers to kick the habit.

The ghastly images, including those of an unborn child inhaling smoke from the mother, as well as a snake coiled around a shisha pipe, would be part of the implementation of anti-smoking legislation in this Gulf nation.

The authorities were also looking at the possibiliy of banning the sale of single cigarettes and preventing them from being sold near schools, The National daily quoted Dr Wedad al Maidoor, who heads the National Tobacco Control Committee, as saying.

Cigarette vendors may also be compelled to get mandatory licences.

Dr Wedad said details of the implementation would be discussed next month.

“We hope it’ll be done soon,” she said, adding that various authorities would be involved to ensure its success.


Source: Bernama (March 4, 2010)

DOH to push picture-based warnings on cigarette packs

March 9, 2010

GOOD news for anti-smoking advocates, but bad news for the tobacco industry in general.

The Department of Health will push for the printing of “picture-based warnings” against tobacco use on cigarette packs being sold to the public.

Stressing the need to intensify the government’s campaign against the ill-effects of cigarette smoking, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral told a news conference on Friday that she favored the strategy.

The DOH would implement as soon as possible a “draft administrative order” covering such warnings, Cabral told anti-smoking advocates like the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines (FCAP). Cigarette smoking is one of the lung health issues cited in Proclamation no. 2001, issued recently by President Macapagal-Arroyo, declaring 2010 as the “Year of the Lung.”

In her directive, the President stressed the need for “preventive measures through a more intensified advocacy campaign and effective strategies to curb the epidemic causing serious and debilitating lung disorders.” According to Cabral, the DOH would “continue our advocacy against cigarette smoking.”

Both PCCP and FCAP favor a total ban on tobacco use in the country.

Cabral, however, said “I don’t think we can do that.”

“It impinges on the rights of human beings to choose to die or not to die from diseases caused by smoking. All we can do is tell them the facts and this is what we would do if we were you and we hope you’ll do the same thing,” she explained. Dr. Sylvia Banal-Yang, PCCP president, and Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP executive director, both called picture-based warnings a “more effective” strategy against cigarette smoking.

“A picture speaks a thousand words. So when smokers see what tobacco use can do to their health, then maybe they’ll have second thoughts about buying cigarettes again,” said Yang.

Limpin strongly believes such warnings printed on cigarette packs would “convince the smoking public, especially the youth, that smoking is really bad for the health.”

“Such strategy is bad news for the tobacco industry in general. But many people in the industry, including tobacco farmers, are themselves convinced that cigarette smoking kills. Some farmers we talked to said they’re willing to shift to planting other agricultural products as long as the government helps them,” she said.

At the same time, the FCAP head called for the imposition of higher taxes on cigarettes, among other products, in support of both the anti-smoking and clean air campaigns.


Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (March 8, 2010)