Pictorial warning on cigarette packs: Will it work?

Pictorial warning on cigarette packs: Will it work?

World No tobacco day on May 31

This order becomes all the more important as we celebrate World ‘No tobacco’ Day on May 31, considering the long and hard struggle many good hearted people have undergone, to get such an order.

Tobacco — this little herb has created more damage to the world than any atom bomb has. Widely used as an intoxicant all over the world since time immemorial, tobacco is the key ingredient of cigarettes and pan, though well known to have a number of harmful effects, even causing cancer. Unfortunately, half the population of the world is under the influence of this intoxicant, that it has become a huge threat to the world health scenario. Youngsters, especially, are falling prey to the harmful effects, direct as well as indirect, of tobacco, despite all warnings and awareness drives.

Cigarettes are the most widely used tobacco products in India. Health workers have been trying to make sure that cigarette smokers are aware of its harmful effects from time to time. Even though there are rules making the warning mandatory on cigarette packets, they are seldom followed, thanks to official apathy, corruption and rule of money rampant in the country. Every year, we celebrate World ‘No tobacco’ Day, conducting awareness campaigns and such, but often in vain.

But this year’s ‘No tobacco’ day offers reason to celebrate for all those bold hearts who have been fighting hard against tobacco. As per the SC order, the warning consists of the slogan ‘Tobacco is cancer’ accompanied by the picture of either skull and bones, scorpion, crab or a cancer disfigured face. The verdict came during the hearing of a lawsuit by the NGO named Health for Millions seeking implementation of the law on pictorial warnings on the packets of all tobacco products.

Now, that is certainly a ray of hope, only if the order is properly implemented by the government, especially local authorities. Fortunately for Mangaloreans, Vincent Nazareth, Chairman of the NGO Crusade Against Tobacco (CAT), a division of The Neil Charitable Trust, is camping in Mangalore for a week, with the sole aim of ensuring that the order is followed and that the law enforcement authorities are taking the matter seriously.

Speaking to City Herald, Nazareth explained his concerns and confusion regarding the implementation of the SC order.

“Two years ago, as many as 31 petitions were filed all over India by various tobacco companies against the government’s decision to carry pictorial warnings on cigarette packets. Now that the SC has made it mandatory, my concern is regarding those foreign cigarettes that are smuggled into India. Only cigarette companies in India have to follow the SC order, not the foreign ones. If the order has to have the desired impact, there is an urgent need to check the smuggling of as many as 85 brands of cigarettes into India.

Who is going to do that? The police? Customs?” Nazareth questions.

According to him, brands like Malboro have two kinds of packets, one with the warning and another without. Are the law-enforcing agencies going to confiscate the packets without the warning? Will Karnataka police have the guts to raid the duty free shops and malls where the foreign cigartes are sold and confiscate them? Are they going to be strict about implementing the order? Is it too much to expect that much?

Vincent Nazareth, who has a vast experience of fighting against tobacco, intends to go on the field himself and help the police with the raids from June 1 onwards. He has already sent a letter to the IGP (Western Range), on behalf of his NGO ‘Crusade Against Tobacco,’ requesting him to take action against shops that sell cigarette packets without the said pictorial warning.

If the law is carried out without faults, after all, there seems to be some purpose in observing the ‘No tobacco Day’.

'APJ didn’t respond’

Former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam didn’t pay heed to a little girl’s plea to include tobacco in the school curriculum, said Vincent Nazareth, speaking on his visit to Mangalore three years ago, when he conducted a class on the harmful effects of tobacco for the students of Besant High School in the city (refer DH- 13-05-06). A little girl of 12 years had presented her request to the President, considering his well known faith in the younger generation, through Deccan Herald. Nazareth says he had visited Kalam with the article atleast thrice, but to no effect till date. Hail the most popular president of the country.

Flash News

Somebody is opening a ‘Hooka parlour’ in a City mall. Who has given the permission? Happy ‘No tobacco day’!