Special Correspondent

It could be put off by four months, says Ministry

NEW DELHI: The Centre is willing to postpone by four months the implementation of the notification providing for printing of pictorial warnings reflecting the ill-effects of tobacco consumption of beedi and other tobacco products. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2006 is to come into effect from February 1, 2007.

Making a statement in the Lok Sabha on a calling attention motion, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said this would be done keeping in mind several representations made to him by individuals, beedi manufacturers and politicians. "The Ministry is ready to postpone the implementation of the notification until May-end next year."

Dr. Ramadoss said studies indicated that positive public health measures such as the present one did not have any immediate economic impact on the industry, due to the addictive nature of the tobacco product and the time taken for demand reduction. On the other hand, such measures go a long way in improving the overall health and economy of the nation. Further, these Rules were yet to come into force. Therefore, it is premature to conclude that the impact of such pictorial warning would result in closure of beedi manufacturing units.