India Ranks A Lowly 100 In Campaign Against Tobacco
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22 November 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Gory Pictorial Warnings On Packets Have Been Repeatedly Put Off
India figures shamefully low in a new report that ranks countries according to how successfully they have managed to introduce pictorial health warnings on tobacco packets – a proven strategy that deters people from smoking or chewing tobacco.
India ranks 100 among 175 countries surveyed on warning size and fulfilment of requirements for picture–based warnings on cigarette packets. Under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty signed and ratified by India, the parties are required to carry health warnings on all packages of tobacco products describing the harmful effects of tobacco use.
The warnings "should be 50% or more of the principal display areas, but shall be no less than 30% of the display areas", and include pictorial warnings.
The "Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report", released during WHO’s FCTC meeting in Uruguay this week, has reviewed both signatories and non–signatories to the Convention and found that at least 39 countries now have pictorial warnings with many more countries in the process of doing so.
India, where 2,500 people die daily due to use of tobacco, has put off introduction of strong and gory pictorial warnings till December 1. Shoba John, chairperson, Framework Convention Alliance, said, "India was at forefront of demanding effective and visible picture–based health warnings on tobacco packs at the negotiations of FCTC in 2003. It is regretful that India occupies the 100th position among countries with health warnings. Warnings that are tested effective to dissuade tobacco use ought to be implemented without further delay."
India was required to implement pictorial health warnings – within three years of coming into force of FCTC – on February 27, 2008. Though it had already notified field tested effective pictorial health warnings in July 2006, a set of mild and ineffective warnings were introduced from May 31, 2009.