GUWAHATI, March 24 � Altogether 38,740 signatures of people across the country, including Assam, who strongly support the implementation of new and larger health warnings on tobacco packets in India from April 1, were submitted to JP Nadda, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, on March 18.
The signatures were collected in an online and offline petition started by Sunita Tomar, an oral cancer survivor. The petition is part of a public awareness campaign to support the move for larger and stronger pictorial warnings on tobacco products in India, a press release stated.
In Assam also, people from different walks of life have signed the online petition and sent a written representation to the Union Health Minister.
In addition to the petition, representations were also sent to the Health Minister from global public health experts, Members of Parliament, celebrities, journalists, women groups, youth associations, doctor organisations, hospitals, self-help groups, educational institutions, voluntary organisations, lawyers and bidi workers� associations from different parts of the country.
The Government of India on October 15, 2014 had issued a notification, giving the tobacco industry six months to ensure that all tobacco packages in India have pictorial warnings, covering 85 per cent of the surface area on both sides. The warnings will feature pictures of tobacco-caused diseases such as mouth, lung and throat cancers.
A recent MoHFW-WHO-supported PHFI study estimated that the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in the year 2011 amounted to a staggering Rs 1,04,500 crore � 12 per cent more than the combined State and Central government expenditure on health care in the same year.
India has 12 crore tobacco users, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 2009-2010, which means every ninth Indian consumes tobacco.
Tobacco-related diseases kill about 2,500 Indians daily and over 10 lakh Indians every year. It is estimated that approximately 5,500 children, some as young as eight years old, start consuming tobacco daily.