Aarti Dhar

Skull and cross-bones warning on tobacco packs not compulsory

NEW DELHI: Smoking will be banned at all workplaces in a few months and the Government has decided to do away with a proposal to make display of the skull and cross-bones sign on tobacco packs compulsory. However, law will be amended to introduce warnings on tobacco product packages.

These decisions were taken at a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi told reporters.

“Appropriate warnings” would be displayed on tobacco packages without affecting social or religious sentiments. The Government would launch a vigorous campaign against the evils of smoking from October 2, Mr. Dasmunsi said.

There was a controversy over the issue of displaying the skull and cross-bones warning on tobacco products as it was felt by a section that it would hurt the religious sentiments of certain communities.

Minutes after the Cabinet meeting, Dr. Ramadoss said there would be a total ban on smoking at workplaces in three or four months and violators would have to face stringent punishment.

“People can smoke on the streets or their homes if their wives or maids allow them to,” he said after receiving the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Special Award for Tobacco Control.

Asked about pictorial warnings, he said there was lot of “pressure” on the Government to withdraw them but said he would not relent. “The aim is to make India smoking free,” he said.

Dr. Ramadoss said the Government was planning to set up a Health Minister’s Cancer Fund to treat cancer patients, particularly youth, and called upon individuals and corporate houses to donate generously for the fund.