Harsher warnings notified for tobacco packs

Harsher warnings notified for tobacco packs

Manufacturers will have to use the pictorials from December 1

Harsher warnings notified for tobacco packs

The Centre on Friday notified two sets of pictorial warning for tobacco products including a bunch of gory and explicit images of cancerous mouth, which will be printed on chewing tobacco packs.

Tobacco companies will have to sell their products with these images from December 1, 2011, according to the union health ministry's official notification.

The shocking images of cancerous lesions would replace the earlier milder images of X-ray plate, scorpion and infected lungs with the  government  hoping that the images would give a jolt to the tobacco consumers compelling them to kick the dangerous habit. 

The new notification is preceded by a nation-wide survey in 28 states, which revealed that 35 per cent of Indians consume tobacco out of which 26 per cent chew tobacco, leaving only nine per cent for smoking.

The new set of images is being issued under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act of 2003, which not only makes pictorial warnings mandatory but also bans smoking in public places and selling of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

Tobacco kills between 700,000 to one million Indians every year and a large number of those tobacco victims use chewing tobacco.

Damage to heart

Besides significantly increasing the risk of mouth cancer, a recent study conducted by medical scientists at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, here showed chewing tobacco is equally damaging for heart.

Nicotine is well absorbed from chewing tobacco and remain elevated for a longer duration compared with smoking tobacco. Continued usage of will lead to shrinkage of blood vessels in heart.

Chewing a low quantity of crushed tobacco leaves (1 gm) led to very high levels of cotinine in the blood, suggesting that the nicotine content of Indian form of chewing tobacco is high, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drug last month.

Indian tobacco products for chewing (khaini, zarda and unmanufactured tobacco) contained more nicotine (13.8–65.0 mg/g) than American smokeless tobacco, it added.

The new images were selected in the wake of feedback from sectors that the existing warnings are too weak and ineffective to influence tobacco users for kicking the habit.