Dec 8, 2010
Cigarette manufacturers got a year’s breather after the Union Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to defer the move to implement new, scarier pictorial warnings on cigarette and bidi packs till December 2011.
The decision means cigarette packs will continue with the current pictorial warnings – a scorpion on bidi packs and a cancer-affected lung on cigarette packs – for another year. Also, the interregnum will give the industry time to pressure the government against implementing harsher images.
Sources said the Cabinet supported the Health Ministry’s proposal to defer implementation of the new warnings by a year – gory pictures of a cancer-affected mouth – in the backdrop of protests by the tobacco industry. Two major manufacturers had stopped production from December 1, resulting in losses worth crores of rupees every day in excise tax.
The Union Health Ministry decided to go to the Cabinet after a GoM headed by Pranab Mukherjee informally met Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last month and disapproved the new picture.
The new warning was cleared by the Health Minister earlier this year after a survey revealed that existing warnings were not making the desired impact.
A GoM set up in 2008 had approved the current warnings with the condition that they be replaced with scarier images of a cancer-affected mouth from December 1, 2010.