June 27, 2009 - Kolkata - formerly Calcutta is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal) In keeping with the Supreme Court order, cigarette packs with pictorial warnings covering at least 40 per cent of the front of the packet made their entry in city outlets on Thursday.
Cigarettes manufactured by the Hyderabad-based VST Industries Ltd under the brand name “Special” carried a picture of smoke-damaged lungs with the warning “Smoking Kills” in white on a red background above it, and another warning beside the picture that said “Tobacco Causes Cancer”.
The Union government had assured the apex court last month that it would ensure pictorial warnings like the skull and cross bones or a cancer-disfigured face were carried on cigarettes packets and other tobacco products from May 31 onwards under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packing and Labeling) Rules, 2008.
While plans were on the anvil since former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss successfully brought about the ban on smoking in public places on October 2 last year, the government was yet to implement the pictorial warnings as stipulated by law. The government’s undertaking to the SC came after an NGO, Health for Millions, filed a lawsuit seeking implementation of the law on pictorial warnings on the packets of all tobacco products.
While VST authorities were not available for comment, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd, the second-largest player in the cigarette market, said their cigarette packets with the pictorial warning would hit the outlets soon.
“The notification specifies that the warning has to be carried on packets manufactured on or after May 31. However, stocks available with wholesale dealers may be of those manufactured before May 31. As this stock gets consumed, the packets manufactured after May 31 will be available,” said Harmanjeet Singh, chief corporate communications at Godfrey-Phillips.
Reference: Cancerous’ cigarette packs hit city, Express News Service, 6/26/2009.
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