India - pictorial warning on cigarettes and tobacco products effective May 31, 2009..

May 28, 2009 - India - this is definite - pictorial warning on cigarettes and tobacco products will be implemented effective Sunday, May 31, 2008 - WHO World NO Tobacco Day.

Starting Sunday, several three-member police squads will be doing the rounds in Chennai (capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is India's fourth largest metropolitan city, known as 'Gateway to South India'), covering petty shops and retail outlets to check whether pictorial warnings against smoking are printed on tobacco packs, mandatory as per specifications provided by the Union health ministry. Each team will comprise a police official, health officer and school headmaster. Violations would attract fines, with or without imprisonment, commissioner of police K Radhakrishnan said here on Monday.

According to the cigarette and tobacco products (packaging and labeling) rules issued by the Union government, all cigarette and tobacco packs should carry pictorial messages and a revised statuary warning, Smoking kills and tobacco causes cancer' on 40% of the principal display area ( Smoking is injurious to health' was the earlier warning that customers have been used to for years).

"If this (instructions) is not followed, the manufacturer can be fined up to Rs 5,000 with or without two years imprisonment. The dealer or seller can be fined up to Rs 1,000 [1000 India Rupees = 21.01USD] with or without a year's imprisonment. If the offence is repeated, the fine amount will be raised to Rs 10,000 [10,000 India Rupees = 210.13USD] for the manufacturer with or without five years' imprisonment, and up to Rs 3,000 [3,000 India Rupees = 63.03USD] for the dealer or seller with or without two years' imprisonment," said director of public health Dr S Elango.

So far, more than 9,600 people have been fined for smoking in public places and this has resulted in an income generation of Rs 11.44 lakh for the state government.

Reference: No pictorial warning? Beware of the squad, The Times of India, 5/26/2009.