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Tobacco Kills: Pictures Say it All

Youth demands speedy implementation of stronger pictorial warning on tobacco packets

New Delhi, May 2 (G’nY News Service): In what was the first time, a youth steered press conference on implementation of stronger pictorial warnings on tobacco product packets was held at the Indian Habitat Center, New Delhi. Called Picture Save Lives, the seminar demonstrated “the youth perspective on the public health urgency in implementing larger pictorial health warnings on tobacco packets”.

Organized jointly by PHFI and HRIDAY with support from the WHO Country Office for India, the Conference was presided over by Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, Hon’ble Member of Parliament along with the President of PHFI, Prof. K. Srinath Reddy and Ms. Bahar Shoogufan, Youth Health Advocate, HRIDAY. The Conference was also buttressed by former Indian cricket icon and India’s ambassador for Tobacco Control, Rahul Dravid, via a recorded message called “Rahul Dravid bats for tobacco control.”

The government of India on October 14, 2015 mandated the utilization of 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products packages to be enforced from April 1. This aimed not only to create public awareness about the virulent effects of tobacco but also curtail the use of tobacco packages as a medium of product promotion. However, there has been an unfortunate delay in the implementation.

HRIDAY’s press release states, “The delay in implementation of the 85 per cent warnings has been caused by an interim observation of a Committee on Subordinate Legislation of the Lok Sabha, on account of tobacco industry lobbying, while reviewing the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014.”

The youth of the nation, in a very laudable stance, submitted the Ministry of health with 4000 letters urging for quick execution of the 85 per cent warning mandate. This was accompanied by a signature campaign with 5000 signatures to support the timely enforcement of the warnings. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India said, “Large sized pictorial health warnings are essential for effectively communicating the deadly health risks of tobacco to youth and the predominantly poor consumers in India, who have low levels of literacy and limited access to other sources of health information.”

The use of stronger warnings in Bidis (hand rolled Indian cigarettes) was also emphasized by Jay Panda. On questioned why, he told our correspondent, “It’s the financially challenged class that suffers the most. They hardly can afford medical expenses and they rarely have health insurance.”

As per the figures released by HRIDAY, India witnesses around 20 lakh youth tobacco initiations and around 81 thousand deaths from tobacco related diseases every year.

Join HRIDAY’s Picture Save Lives campaign and help make India a tobacco free nation.

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