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SC ‘no’ to smaller pictorial warnings on tobacco packets

May 05, 2016 02:20 am | Updated 02:20 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court has refused to shrink the size of pictorial health warnings on cigarette and tobacco packets and asked manufacturers to abide by a Health Ministry notification on increasing the size of the warning messages to 85 per cent from the present 20 per cent of the principal display area on packets from April 1.

Compliance urged

A Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy said manufacturers should endeavour to comply with the ministry notification issued under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2008 (COTPA) until the Karnataka High Court takes a final decision on the challenges against certain amendments in the law.

The Karnataka High Court, to which petitions from various high courts on the issue were transferred, had refused to stay the operation of the rules.

“We request all the petitioners that till the disposal of the matter by the Karnataka High Court, it will be the endeavour of all the parties to implement the rules whatever as amended,” the apex court held. The Supreme Court also directed the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court to decide if the batch of petitions would be heard by a single bench or a division bench.

Public interest

During the hearing, the court observed that in public interest, tobacco companies should act responsibly and said the awareness created on the issue would help curb the ill-effects of tobacco usage.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by the Karnataka Beedi Industry Association, which sought a stay on the enforcement of the new rules, saying these would cause grave and irreparable harm to the tobacco industry.

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