The depiction of new and more stringent pictorial warnings on tobacco products has been deferred by six months to December 1 from the scheduled date of June 1.

A notification issued here earlier this week by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that while the new pictorial warnings had been deferred, the existing tobacco product packs would continue.

Prominent display

The new warnings will show pictures of cancerous mouths and occupy at least 40 per cent of the packet area. They will be displayed on the upper portion in a bid to dissuade people from using tobacco, which causes cancer, one of the top 10 killers in India.

The Ministry, under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 (amended in 2008 and 2009), had notified the new pictorial health warnings on March 5.

The pictorial warnings are to be changed every year.

“The tobacco industry claims that the entire process of new pictures on packets is cost-intensive, which is just an excuse since they keep changing the packaging of their products for better marketing. Moreover, they were notified about it a long time back,” the Voluntary Health Association of India said in a statement issued here while accusing the government of buckling under the influence of the tobacco lobby.

“The present pictorial warnings are absolutely ineffective. But as part of our own research, the new warnings are very effective. Countries like Brazil change pictorial warnings every five months,” it added.

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