New Delhi, May 30 (G’nY News Service): After Australia, France and the United Kingdom, India is planning to follow plain packaging for tobacco products. However, the country need more than plain packaging to curb tobacco consumption.
In addition to the 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages in India, a more standardised plain packaging has been recommended in the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2016 held on May 30, at New Delhi. Plain packaging refers to ‘measures to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style’ The Hindu. The event also launched National Tobacco Cessation Quitline, tobacco control campaign tools to help users quit use of tobacco.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), World Health Orgnisation (WHO) and National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) jointly organised the event. MoHFW and WHO representatives as well as tobacco control experts, law enforcers from several states of the country have come on a common platform to discuss tobacco control measures in India, with focus on the 85 per cent pictorial warnings and the WNTD 2016 theme of standardised plan-packaging for tobacco products.
Addressing the event, Henk Bekedam said ‘Tobacco taxation and health warnings on tobacco packs are best buys for tobacco control. Large pictorial pack warnings increase public awareness of the serious health risks of tobacco use and ensure that the packaging tells the truth about the deadly product within.’ The panel discussion focused on national and state level experiences of implementing tobacco control laws in India. The Australian experience of implementing plain packaging of tobacco products and scientific evidence in support of the 85 per cent pictorial warning in India were also shared (Press Release).
However, cigarette smokers and retailers are of the opinion that there has not been any ‘significant change in consumption rates (The Times of India)’ despite enlarged pictorial warnings.
Speaking to G’nY correspondent, Dr. Monica Arora, Director PHFI and Executive Director, HRIDAY, said ‘India is one of the highest tobacco consumers in the world and raising awareness is vital. Pictorial warnings on tobacco products including advertisements in media platforms have impacted in raising awareness. And plain packaging is the next step.’
Besides standardised packaging, campaigns on a much bigger scale which can reach out to people from all walks of life and collective efforts of civil society are necessary to curb tobacco consumption in the country.