India: Bid to scuttle tobacco warning

Jan 13, 2012

NGOs have claimed that recent reports suggesting that one of the pictorial warnings for tobacco products resembles footballer John Terry could be an attempt by the manufacturers to scuttle the pictorial warnings once again.

In a recent RTI filed by the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), the issue was brought to the notice of Union health ministry earlier in November by Philip Morris, manufacturer of the leading cigarette brand Marlboro. “However, digging the issue once again now could be a deliberate move by the manufacturers to put the warnings in trouble.” According to the representatives of the VHAI, even as the letter by Philip Morris mentioned that pictures notified by the government for smoking form of tobacco products “bears a close resemblance to English soccer player John Terry, the ministry had clarified then itself that pictures for the health warnings were being developed by Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) in consultation with them and the pictures were mere sketches and did not relate to any person living or dead.”

“Further the cigarette company has the option to choose any one picture out of the set of four each of lung and oral cancer. Since the images are blurred and sketchy such resemblance can be attributed to scores of people,” the RTI said.

Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, VHAI executive director, said, “The tobacco lobby is trying to create unnecessary confusion to derail the process of implementation of the new pictorial health warning. More than a month has passed since the warnings have come into effect but most of the leading brands have not printed the new pictures.”

Source: Deccan Chronicle (January 11, 2012)