Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has backed the Health Ministry's decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on packets of tobacco products from the current 40% to 85%.
The Healthy Ministry refused to roll back its decision despite mounting pressures from the tobacco product manufacturers in India.
Following the implementation of the new guidelines from April 1, many major manufacturers across the country decided to halt production, citing ambiguity on the graphic health warning on tobacco product packs.
It is said that the new policy has resulted in a daily loss of Rs 350 crore in production turnover for the tobacco industry.
However, senior officials in the health ministry maintained it is "firm on anti-tobacco stand" as it is a matter of public interest.
“We want to clarify that there is no ambiguity. This is a bogey raised by the tobacco industry. The case is crystal clear. We had issued the notification in September last year. If they had found an ambiguity, why did they send their letter in March, 2016,” a senior ministry official said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also backed the health Ministry's proposal to increase size of health warnings on tobacco packs.
A recent WHO report pointed out that smoking and tobacco-related diseases brought on a Rs. 1.04-trillion economic burden to the Indian economy.
The move has been welcomed by various health experts, citing that the health ministry could not take a better step than this to curb the tobacco-related deaths in the country, which currently stand at over 10 lakh.