Tobacco control organisations have welcomed the Supreme Court's intervention to ensure early implementation of the new set of pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packages.

“The Court has asked the Centre whether the new pictorial warnings on the tobacco products would be brought into effect from June 1. Considering the earlier delays in the Packaging and Labelling Rules, such an intervention is appreciated,” said Deepti Singh, legal officer of HRIDAY, a non-government organisation working in the field of tobacco control.

“A number of tobacco product companies had already started printing mouth cancer warnings on packages following December 1 last. There had been no official intimation of further deferment at the time till the December 20 notification was issued by the Union Health Ministry. In a deplorable reversal of law, this one-year delay has been decreed over two-weeks after the set date of implementation has passed,” Ms. Singh added.

The tobacco control organisations have noted that the strong pictorial health warnings on tobacco products inform people about the wide spectrum of health consequences of tobacco use.

“It is every individual's right to be adequately informed before making a decision and effective health warnings will help tobacco users and potential users recognise the deadly consequences of consuming tobacco in any form. Tobacco control organisations have been emphasising time and again that each day of delay will compound the harm caused by tobacco. While severe harm is being inflicted on the Indian people by the tobacco industry, with this move of the Apex Court, the Government will have to reconsider if it can remain complicit in its duty to control the tobacco menace,” said HRIDAY senior director Dr. Monika Arora.

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