Govt defers move to increase size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products

New Delhi: The Centre has stayed the decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products following a Parliamentary panel's assertion that it needs more time to deliberate on the issue.

Health Minister J P Nadda, however, insisted that the government was committed to its stand on increasing the size of pictorial warning and curbing tobacco consumption in all its forms and have informed the panel on the same.

"The committee has said that they want to deliberate it further. They have asked for more time for deliberation. Till that time, the warning which was to come up on advertisement
and on the packets has been stayed," he said.

"But the Health Ministry, when it went to the Committee, whatever we have said, we are firm on that. We have pleaded that there was a necessity for this (warnings). Health Ministry is very much on its stand," Nadda said.

The Parliamentary Committee on subordinate legislation examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 headed by BJP MP Dilip Gandhi had "strongly" urged the government to keep on hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 per cent to 85 per cent which was to come to effect
from April 1.

"It is the recommendation of the committee to keep it abeyance till they decide and deliberate on it. They are deliberating. Till that time it has been stayed. Health Ministry is committed whatever stand we have taken, we want to take it forward," Nadda said.

Senior Health Ministry officials said the committee has recommended that notification regarding increase of pictorial warning area shld be kept in abeyance as all stakeholders have not been consulted yet.

"The ministry has to follow recommendations of the committee. There is no change in the ministry's commitment to curb tobacco consumption in all possible forms," a senior official said.

Citing "adverse impact" on livelihood of people involved in the tobacco industry, the panel said a large number of representations expressing "serious" apprehensions from MPs as
well as other stakeholders against the proposed notification.

The panel in its report had said, "it strongly urges the government that the implementation of the notification viz GSR 727-E dated October 15, 2014 may be kept in abeyance till the
committee finalise the examination of the subject and arrive at appropriate conclusion and present an objective report to the Parliament".

Head of the panel Dilip Gandhi had also given a controversial remark saying said there was no Indian study to confirm that use of tobacco products leads to cancer.

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