Health warn­ings on cig­a­rette pack­ets will cover 85% of space

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

The gov­ern­ment has made it manda­tory for to­bacco com­pa­nies to carry health warn­ings cov­er­ing at least 85 per cent of the sur­face of cig­a­rette pack­ets.

The health min­istry amended the rules un­der the Cig­a­rettes and Other To­bacco Prod­ucts Act (COTPA) through a gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion, fix­ing 1 April 2015 as the dead­line and leav­ing cig­a­rette mak­ers with less than six months for com­pli­ance. The de­vel­op­ment has come in the wake of an in­ter­na­tional re­port by the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety, which ranked In­dia at 136 out of 198 coun­tries with re­gard to the size of health warn­ings on cig­a­rette pack­ets. Thai­land (85 per cent), Aus­tralia (82.5 per cent) and Uruguay (80 per cent) were the top three coun­tries, as per the re­port.

As per ear­lier rules, pic­to­rial warn­ings cov­ered 40 per cent of just the front sur­face of the cig­a­rette packs in In­dia. With the dras­tic re­vi­sion in rules, In­dia will share the top spot with Thai­land.

To­bacco In­sti­tute of In­dia (TII), which rep­re­sents the in­ter­est of cig­a­rette mak­ers in­clud­ing ITC and Godfrey Phillips, said the pro­posed warn­ings are un­rea­son­able, dras­tic and im­prac­ti­cal to im­ple­ment and en­force. “The ex­ist­ing graphic health warn­ings at 40% are ad­e­quate to in­form and cau­tion a per­son. The pro­posal to fur­ther in­crease the size of the warn­ings is com­pletely un­war­ranted and un­nec­es­sary. Even coun­tries like USA, Ja­pan and China have tex­tual warn­ings which are not dis­pro­por­tion­ately large,” said Syed M Ahmad, di­rec­tor at TII.

Ac­cord­ing to health min­is­ter Harsh Vard­han, the decision to in­crease size of health warn­ings is the first of many such changes to come. “I am a prac­tis­ing ENT sur­geon and I have per­son­ally seen peo­ple dy­ing be­cause of can­cer caused by smoking and con­sump­tion of to­bacco. We have made a num­ber of sug­ges­tions to the Cab­i­net on curb­ing to­bacco con­sump­tion and this decision is just one step in that di­rec­tion,” the min­is­ter said at a func­tion or­ga­nized by the WHO to ob­serve Global Hand­wash­ing Day.

Gur­gaon courts have 49,000 pend­ing cases

With over 49,000 court cases pend­ing in its dis­trict courts, Gur­gaon has the max­i­mum le­gal pen­dency in Haryana. The data was shared by Pun­jab and Haryana high court judge SK Mit­tal at a press in­ter­ac­tion in Gur­gaon. “The en­tire state (of Haryana) has over 5.29 lakh pend­ing cases,” re­vealed Jus­tice Mit­tal.

He said the ju­di­ciary is mak­ing con­certed ef­forts to re­duce pen­dency, with a dis­posal rate of 100 per cent in the num­ber of cases ad­mit­ted each year. “Over six lakh cases are ad­mit­ted in one year, and we tend to dis­pose more cases than the num­ber of cases ad­mit­ted, such that some old cases are also set­tled each year,” he said.

While at­tribut­ing most of the de­lays to war­ring lit­i­gants, Jus­tice Mit­tal said, “The de­lay in pro­nounc­ing judge­ment hap­pens pri­mar­ily be­cause of the de­lay­ing tac­tics of one of the par­ties, who ex­pect to get ad­versely af­fected be­cause of the likely ver­dict. If we in­sist on an early date, the bar as­so­ci­a­tion would call a strike.”

Jus­tice Mit­tal em­pha­sized that the na­tional Lok Adalat, sched­uled to be held on 6 De­cem­ber in all courts across the coun­try, will help cut down on pen­dency. “We ex­pect around 80,000 ju­di­cial cases in the state to come up be­fore the Lok Adalat. It will be an achieve­ment if even half are re­solved. Be­side this, sev­eral rev­enue-re­lated mat­ters, which will be heard in the quasi-ju­di­cial courts of the deputy com­mis­sioner, the sub-di­vi­sional mag­is­trate, and the tehsildar, are also likely to be re­solved,” he said.

The na­ture of cases that would come up be­fore Lok Adalats in­clude prop­erty dis­putes, mat­ri­mo­nial dis­putes, petty crimes, con­sumer court dis­putes, dis­hon­our of cheques and dis­putes with co­op­er­a­tive so­ci­ety, etc. About the ef­fi­cacy of Lok Adalats, Jus­tice Mit­tal said, “When global is­sues can be re­solved through di­a­logue, re­solv­ing petty civil and crim­i­nal mat­ters, too, should sim­i­larly be pos­si­ble.”

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