The Centre has set May 31 deadline for the States and Union Territories to withdraw from the market tobacco products whose 85 per cent packaging space is not covered with pictorial warning.
A communiqué from the Tobacco Control Division of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, dated May 20, 2015, has requested the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to take steps for strict enforcement of the new rules on pictorial warnings.
The Pictorial Warning Rules under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003 had come into force from April 1, 2016. The communiqué said that packages not compliant with the new rules be allowed for sale “only by printing, pasting or affixing the new warnings thereon covering 85 per cent of the principal display area.”
Referring to continued sale of cigarette packets bearing a pictorial warning only on 40 per cent of the display area, U.S. Vishal Rao, member of Karnataka Government’s High Power Committee on Tobacco Control, told The Hindu that cigarette manufacturers were “misleading the public”.
Though the Union Health Ministry’s notification on the larger size of pictorial warning was issued in September last year to come into force from April 1, the cigarette manufacturers continued to mislead the public by restricting the warning to 40 per cent of the display space on one side. “The rest of the space, 60 per cent on one side and 100 per cent on the other, continues to be an advertisement,” he said.
Dr. Rao also said the stores had been directed to display the product in such a manner that the side of the cigarette packet without warning faces the public.
Meanwhile, most cigarettes packs available in Mysuru not only bore a pictorial warning that was restricted to just 40 per cent of the display area on one side, but also a packaging date that was prior to April 1, 2016, when the law on larger pictorial warning came into force.
Though wholesale cigarette dealers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they did not possess any pack packaged prior to April 1, they did not rule out the possibility of retail shops and stores continuing to sell old stock.
Source: The Hindu