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Bidi Cos violating pictorial warnings
Published on 20 Jul. 2009 11:34 PM IST
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More than six weeks have passed since the new rules on pictorial warnings on tobacco products came into force but bidi and gutka companies are openly violating them, a study said Monday. The study has been conducted by a NGO Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) to monitor the implementation of the pack warning rules on tobacco products. “Bidi brands have been completely violating the rules and have not implemented pictorial health warnings. Many chewable tobacco products like gutka, khaini have implemented the rules but have drastically watered down the already weak pictorial health warnings. A few cigarette companies and brands have implemented the pack warnings,” the study said. The pictorial warnings are being carried under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packing and Labelling) Rules, 2008, that came into effect May 31. The government had Oct 2, 2008 banned smoking in public places. Smoking has also been banished from the silver screen. Experts say over 900,000 people die every year in India from smoking related diseases. Passive smoking is also one of the major causes of people falling prey to smoking related diseases. “As per the undertaking given by the central government in the Supreme Court on May 6 2009, it is very clear that the law makes it compulsory for all packages of tobacco products to display pictorial warnings on 40 percent of the total area on one side of the packet,” said an official VHAI statement. Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, senior director VHAI, said: “Tobacco companies are not implementing the Supreme Court order and the government’s notification in the right spirit. As a matter of fact, they are in gross violation of specifications that have been clearly communicated to all manufacturers.” “Even six weeks after the passing of the implementation date, most bidi brands are yet to introduce the new packets. Strong enforcement drive should be initiated by the government in order to prevent further dilution of packaging and labelling rules,” he added.

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