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85% Pictorial Warning Is A Step Forward By India

BN-NV899_indcig_P_20160504084909Tobacco kills!
Isn’t it something you have heard and seen innumerable
times? Still it is impossible to get rid of this miasma and
stop it from killing.
Let’s have a brief introduction of this killer before talking
about the facts. Tobacco comes in various forms broadly
classified into smokeless tobacco and smoking products
like cigarette, cigars, bidis, etc. Smokeless tobacco can be
either snuffed or chewed. To name a few khaini and gutkha
fall under this category. These products contain nicotine
which is an addictive drug. Nicotine is rapidly absorbed
into bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed,
inhaled or smoked. Upon entering bloodstream nicotine
immediately stimulates secretion of epinephrine which in
turn activates the central nervous system and increases
blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. Tobacco
consumption can have disastrous effects including cancer
upon long term use.
Despite everyone knowing the hazards of tobacco, it was
the need of the hour to put an elaborate graphic warning
on the tobacco packs about the health risks associated
with it. Presenting itself as a true global leader India made
critical decision of ensuring pre-tested graphic health
warnings covering 85% of the surface area of tobacco
packs sold in India. The initial announcement was made in
October 2014 but the implementation was unfortunately
delayed by one year. It is now being followed in India with
making us one of the few nations with such a large area
dedicated to graphic warning. This was definitely effective
in stopping many potential tobacco users from being
tobacco abusers.
It has been proved that large tobacco warning can save
lives. In a report published by WHO it is clearly mentioned
that -“As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India (GATS
2010) covering the age group 15 years and above, 71% of
cigarette smokers noticed health warnings on cigarette
packages and 38% thought of quitting because of the
warning label; 62% of bidi smokers noticed health warnings
on bidi package and 29% thought of quitting because of the
warning label, and 63% of users of smokeless tobacco
noticed health warnings on smokeless tobacco product
package and 34% thought of quitting because of the
warning label.”
An international status report says that “Health warnings
on packages of tobacco products are a highly cost-
effective means of health communication. Package
warnings reach every smoker (and consumers of other
tobacco products) every day. Warnings are always working
— 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A pack a day smoker
would take his or her pack out 20 times per day, 7300
times per year. Warnings are also seen by those around the
consumers, such as family, friends and co-workers.”
This step is appreciated by everyone except the tobacco
industries who have nothing else more important than
selling death and thus they have been continuously arguing
against it. The bad news is that they have been able to
seek some supporters too. A committee of Indian
parliamentarians heavily influenced by the tobacco industry
had recommended that increased graphic health warnings
championed by the Ministry of Health, should be reduced in
size. This will certainly not be in favor of the population
already ailing from this epidemic. But fortunately the
government has stayed firm on the new requirement of 85%
pictorial warnings, in spite of tobacco industry mounting
pressure by various means such as stopping production of
tobacco products.
To save as many lives as possible from this avoidable
reason we request you to sign the petition by Senthil
Kumar which supports the 85% graphic warning. Every
individual counts. To go the petition, please click here.
This petition is written by Senthil Kumar from Bengaluru
who is himself a victim of tobacco. He is a 35 year old,
suffering from cancer after six years of continuous
consumption. He lost his jaw, a part of his cheek and lip to
the deadly disease. You can understand the importance of
this warning through his experience . He says “Hardly did I
know that chewing tobacco would be this dangerous. A
bottle containing poison has a label with the word danger
written in bold. Statutory warning on tobacco packets
should be in bold and large letters with pictorial reference
to alert young consumers with an aim to prevent them
from ruining their lives. People should be made aware of its
adverse impact on health, so that these packets should
never be used to boost the revenue of tobacco companies”.

This article was originally published on Rise For India.



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