K'taka Health Min. asks Centre to stay firm on pictorial warnings on tobacco products

Submitted by Rashmi on Sat, 2016-03-26 10:30 Bengaluru: Karnataka Health Minister UT Khader in his letter to the Union Health Minister JP Nadda has appreciated the Union Government for the steps it has taken to battle the tobacco menace but has demanded that the government should not step back on its decision on the pictorial warnings that are displayed on the cigarette packs and other tobacco products. Addressing a press conference at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan premises along with health experts here, experts said though the union government had issued a notification way back on October 15, 2014, making it mandatory for tobacco companies to display graphic health warning occupying 85 percent of the principal display area of all tobacco packs it is yet to come into force. "Recently Committee on Subordinate Legislation (COSL), presented a conflicting report recommending 50 percent PWs on both sides of cigarettes packets. Health experts are of the feeling that 50 percent warnings is the not at all enough as various studies have proved that larger warning on tobacco products does curb people from getting addicted to such products," he added. Dr. US Vishal Rao, noted oncologist and member of Karnataka government High Power committee on tobacco control, said he attended the COSL meeting to convey his point of view about the need for consumer awareness as a right to health. He emphasized that govt should be committed to reducing the advertising by tobacco companies which lure consumers to addiction and pave way for consumer awareness of harms through increased pictorial warning. Dr. Banu Prakash, Neuro Surgeon and member of Lok Saktha Party said that it was a compromised report and the union government need not consider it at all. "Also, the proposal to display such warning on only one side of bidi and smokeless tobacco packets, which are causing greater risks to Indian masses, is another worry and is like subsiding death for poor" he added. Health expert Dr. Upendra Bhojani from the Institute of Public Health said this simple step by the Government of India, sticking to 85percent health warning on tobacco products, if taken before this April, can save millions of lives in India! "He added that Beedi Baron and MP Shyam Charan Gupta being a member of the COSL itself is a conflict of interest and renders this report biased and compromised with tobacco industry influence obvious" Advocate Jayna Kothari detailed on the legal aspects of the tobacco control and said that various orders of the Supreme Court and high courts of Karnataka, Rajasthan have highlighted the need for larger sized warnings on tobacco product to keep the users, especially the youngsters away. Karnataka High court has in fact not allowed any stay upholding the matter and giving it due importance. Health experts said that various organisations across the country, including the Association of Physicians of India, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, the Cardiological Society of India, the Commonwealth Medical Association Trust and the Public Health Foundation of India, as a part of the Doctors for Tobacco Control in India forum, have sent letters to union health ministry in this regard. (ANI)