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Government ‘committed’ on tobacco warnings says Health Minister J P Nadda

Health Minister J P Nadda stressed the government is committed to increasing the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products. “I want to take everyone along… Health issue is not to be compromised,” he said, replying to the debate on demands for grants on the ministry.

“We respect your sentiments,” Nadda told opposition members who were demanding an explanation from him on keeping the notification on larger pictorial warnings in abeyance.

The government has put on hold its decision to ask tobacco firms to introduce pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of packaging for tobacco products from the present 40 per cent after the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation urged it to wait till it submits its final report. The rule was to come into effect from April 1.

Naidu rejected the opposition’s charge that there has been a major cut in the budget allocation for the ministry and said the government would soon come out with a national policy to make healthcare accessible and affordable to the people.

“There are truths, half-truths and untruths… it is wrong, totally wrong” to say there has been a reduction, he said after several members expressed concern about less money being kept aside for the ministry in the budget. “There is no reduction… there is no cut in the budget. We have a prime minister who is very sensitive to health issues and a generous finance minister,” he said.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi had slammed the government for “huge cuts” for various sections in the health sector. “It’s time to give up this electoral rhetoric. It’s been 11 months and it’s time to work. Your priorities are confused, get them right,” Gogoi said

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