New Delhi: Hailing the Centre's decision on pictorial health warnings covering 85 per cent of space on tobacco products, a Canada-based cancer charity today said that with this move India will be an example for countries worldwide to bring about awareness on the ill effects of consuming tobacco.
Canadian Cancer Society, which is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada, in its letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister J P Nadda highlighted that by requiring the new tobacco package health warnings, the Indian Government has demonstrated national and international leadership.
"These new, larger tobacco package health warnings will reduce tobacco use and consequently tobacco caused disease and death. The new Indian health warnings will also provide an example for other countries worldwide," said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst from the Society in its letter dated January two.
According to a report by the Canadian Cancer Society, released at a WHO conference in Moscow in September last year, India had been ranked 136 among 198 countries over health warnings on cigarette packets worldwide, listing Thailand as having the largest-sized warnings and India the smallest size even among South Asian nations.
Following the report, former Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on October 15, 2014 had issued a notification stating that 85 per cent of space on cigarette packs and other tobacco products in India will have to be mandatory covered with graphic and text warnings of health hazard.
It is expected to be implemented from April 1.
Also, subsequent to India's announcement, Nepal announced that it would be increasing the size of its warnings from 75 per cent to 90 per cent on tobacco products.
"The tobacco industry will certainly object to India's new package health warnings, as just as the tobacco industry does in every country. If countries such as Thailand, Australia and Uruguay can implement similar size warnings, there is no reason why India cannot as well.
"The leadership by the Government of India - including by the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi is especially important given that in New Delhi in 2016 India will host the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)," Cunningham said.
The Society publishes an international report every two years documenting country practices worldwide for package health warnings.