2016-03-11 15:55:00

India MPs to seek smaller health warnings on cigarette packs

A panel of Indian lawmakers will call for smaller health warnings on cigarette packs, saying the ‎government's requirement of 85 percent of surface area is too harsh on the tobacco industry, sources ‎who have seen the panel's draft report said.  The decision is the latest twist in a tussle between the ‎health ministry, which wants to step up an anti-smoking campaign, in line with the rest of the world, ‎and members of parliament who fear lower sales will hurt tobacco farmers.  ‎

Tobacco use is linked to 900,000 deaths every year in India, and the government had ordered ‎manufacturers to print health warnings covering 85 percent of the surface of a cigarette pack, up from ‎‎20 percent now.  But the parliamentary committee has suggested in its report that the warnings be ‎limited to half the packs' surface area, as a move to protect tobacco farmers' interests, while promoting

health.   The panel feels "a balanced approach" would be to keep the warning size at 50 percent, ‎according to two sources who have seen the report, but asked not to be identified because the draft is ‎not public.‎

Euromonitor International estimates India's cigarette market was worth $9 billion in 2014. Leading ‎players include ITC Ltd , VST Industries and Godfrey Phillips India Ltd, a partner of U.S.-based ‎Philip Morris International.  The Canadian Cancer Society ranks India 136th out of 198 countries that ‎use warnings to deter smokers, lagging nations such as Australia and Thailand that top the list. (Source: Reuters) 

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