India: Bill for plain tobacco packs

Dec 10, 2012

Days after Australia stripped glamour off cigarette packets by becoming the first country to make plain packaging of tobacco packs mandatory, the clamour for India to walk the same road has only got louder.

Lok Sabha MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda on Wednesday introduced a Private Members’ Bill seeking plain packaging of tobacco products in India by making amendments to the current Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.

Garnering support from fellow MPs like D Raja, Supriya Sule and Ajay Kumar, Panda said, “Plain packaging of cigarettes is essential to reduce the appeal of tobacco use, especially among youngsters. In our country, where more than one million people die annually due to tobacco use and the annual health costs of tobacco-related illnesses are a staggering $6.5 billion, this proposed amendment to the Indian tobacco control law will reduce initiation into tobacco use.”

Australia in a landmark move passed legislation on plain packaging that was enforced on December 1.

Plain packaging amplifies the effects of pictorial health warnings which depict the serious health risks of consuming tobacco products.

“The tobacco industry uses attractive packaging and aggressive marketing to lure people into tobacco use. Australia is leading the way by introducing plain packaging as a powerful legislation to counter this industry tactic,” said Prof K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India.

“An initial stakeholder analysis conducted with legal, trade and other subject experts suggests that a decision to enforce plain packaging can be taken within the existing legal frameworks without violating any trade and intellectual property rights,” pointed out Monika Arora from Friday.

Source: The Times of India (December 6, 2012)