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Health groups want govt to act fast on larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products

NEW DELHI: Public health groups have urged the government to expedite implementation of larger pictorial warning on packs of tobacco products. Over 65 such groups and developmental organizations have written to the health ministry to indicate a date for notification of the warning, saying delay will have consequences on public health.

“It is painful to see that the rules prescribing 85% pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products have been kept in abeyance for the last one month pursuant to an interim observation of the committee on subordinate legislation …The delay of each day is an opportunity lost for the health ministry and the government to save 3500 Indians dying and preventing 5500 youths from taking up tobacco use every day. The price of the status quo, thus, is way too high and the losses colossal,” said a letter addressed to Health Minister JP Nadda by Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control.

While the government was to implement the larger pictorial warnings starting April 1, the health ministry deferred the notification after the parliamentary sub committee suggested to wait for the final report. Though the ministry has maintained that it will stick to its anti-tobacco stand, health activists are worried that the delay may send a wrong message.

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