Pictorial warnings on chewing tobacco soon

The Centre will soon notify new pictorial warnings on tobacco products, which will be “harsher” for chewing tobacco, as it has been found more harmful than smoking.

“The pictorial warnings are in the process of notification and can be notified any day. There will be two types of warnings — for cigarettes and for smokeless tobacco,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference to highlight two years of achievements of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, he said the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India, carried out in 2009-2010 found out that 35 per cent of adults use tobacco in some form or the other.

“Among them, 26 per cent adults use smokeless tobacco and nine per cent are smokers. Smokeless tobacco is responsible for 80 per cent of mouth cancer while 20 per cent of mouth cancers are occurring due to smoking,” he said.

Based on the results which show that smokeless tobacco products like gutka are more widely used and are causing more mouth cancers, the government is bringing a “new policy”, Mr. Azad said, adding that “harsher” pictorial warnings will be brought in for chewing tobacco.

There are two existing pictorial warnings like scorpion and damaged lungs for cigarette, while a new and stricter one — a cancer-affected mouth — was to be depicted from December one last year. Such warnings are to be rotated every year.

Tobacco companies have requested the Ministry to increase the number of years for implementing particular programmes from the existing one year to two to three years at least.

Otherwise, they cannot sell the existing cigarette stock with the retailers, and this would cause huge loss to them.

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