Slow poison, but who cares?

Catastrophic

Seems like smokers have thrown caution to the wind. Even the ''harsh and gory'' pictures carried on cigarette packets since December last year, have not deterred them. According to statistics by World Health Organisation (WHO) provided to Tobacco Control in India that is supported by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Government of India, five million people die prematurely every year in the world due to the use of tobacco, mostly cigarette smoking.

Killer: The new pictorial warning on cigarette packets. Dh photo by Chaman Gautam

By 2030, it is estimated that the number of premature deaths due to tobacco consumption would double to ten million deaths every year, with about seven million deaths taking place in developing countries. Among people alive today in the world, about 500 million would die prematurely due to tobacco use and most of them are children and young adults.

Cigarette smoking kills one in two smokers prematurely and half of these deaths occur during middle age (35 to 69 years). “I really do not care about the picture on the packet.

I have been smoking for the past eight years and all these signs will definitely not affect me. I am addicted to it and cannot quit,” said Duhita Jagtiani, who works with a production house. She also added, “These caution signs will help starters and not addicts.” Ankit Bhattacharya, a video editor said, “All these pictures do not matter to me as I am an addict and cannot quit smoking. I don’t notice these signs. These would not work for me at all.”

Seema Gupta, regional director of Voluntary Health Association of India said, “These factories glamourise the packets and do not comply by the rule which state that 50 per cent of the packet on both sides should have the caution sign or the picture but our cigarette packets do not have it.” She added, “The enforcement mechanism is very weak in India. Almost 2,500 people die every day due to smoking. We haven’t yet seen a single mobile van on roads to challan those caught smoking.”

Entrepreneur Kaushik Sen Sharma said, “These tactics by the government of India will help those who have just started smoking and not those like us who are addicted to it. I don’t even see the packets, it’s the cigarette which matters to me and not these caution signs or any pictorial representation.” Another matter of concern is children consuming chewing tobacco, usually in the form of gutka, which is sold near schools and colleges despite the sale of tobacco products being banned within 100 yards of a school, college or hospital, under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.

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