Parliament panel seeks smaller health warning on cigarette packs


New Delhi, March 14: A parliamentary committee has recommended a sharp reduction in the proposed size of health warnings on cigarette packs, saying the measure is too harsh on the tobacco industry, sources have said.

The government had proposed that tobacco makers cover 85 per cent of a cigarette pack’s surface with the health warning, up from 20 per cent now.

But the parliament committee has suggested in its report that the warnings be limited to half the size of the cigarette pack to also protect farmers’ interest while promoting health.

The committee is of the view that to have “a balanced approach” the warning size should be 50 per cent, according to two sources who have seen the report.

On 8 March, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking the larger pictorial warning on the packaging of tobacco products and promulgation and implementation of the plain packaging rules for cigarette and other tobacco products.

Referring to the economic cost of tobacco related diseases, the PIL said that a report by prepared by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) says that “the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in the year 2011 amounted to Rs.1,04,500 crores ($22.4 billion), which is 1.16 per cent of the GDP”.

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