New Delhi: Global health experts, parliamentarians, celebrities, journalists and women groups on Tuesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stay committed to ensure 85 percent graphic health warning on all tobacco products.
The government should set an example to all Saarc countries by implementing 85 percent pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products, a release quoted experts as saying.
India is hosting a Saarc health ministers' meet on Wednesday.
Supriya Sule, NCP Lok Sabha MP from Pune, said: "I appeal to the prime minister it is essential that these warnings appear on tobacco products at the earliest as the new pictorial warnings will reaffirm Indian global leadership, projecting India into one of the leading positions for the largest tobacco health warnings in the world."
Following the October 15, 2014 notification on 85 percent pictorial warnings on both sides of tobacco products, other countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also dramatically increased the size of their pictorial warnings to 90 percent, 85 percent and 80 percent respectively.
"As the custodian of the health of this country, we urge the prime minister should go ahead with the implementation of the notification on 85 percent pictorial warnings on the front and back of all tobacco products.
"This would indeed be a path-breaking initiative by the government to save millions of lives from the hazards of tobacco use," Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director, Voluntary Health Association of India, said.
Over 50,000 representations were sent in support of the new pictorial warnings to health minister JP Nadda, from tobacco control advocates, students, doctors, cancer patients, bidi workers unions, women and youth groups and national and international public health experts.
A recent study by the health ministry and the World Health Organisation estimated that the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 amounted to a staggering Rs. 104,500 crores, 12 percent more than the combined state and central government expenditure on health care in the same year.