AIZAWL, Nov 19 - Anti-tobacco activists in Mizoram have been working hard to see local tobacco products too carry health warnings.
�We are gravely concerned that local tobacco products like tuibur (nicotine water extract of tobacco smoke), meizial (hand-rolled cigarettes) and sahdah (khaini),� are not carrying the statutory health warning, said Dr Jane Ralte, State nodal officer for anti-tobacco campaign.
Tuibur is produced by passing smoke, generated by burning tobacco, through water till the preparation turns cognac in colour and has a pungent smell. The product is sold in bottles of different sizes without health warnings.
Section 7 of the COTPA demands that each package of tobacco products must carry pictorial health warnings the size of which has recently been increased to 80 per cent of the package. Local tobacco products are manufactured in small scale by a number of families in their homes. It is difficult to check all this small-scale manufacturers, Dr Jane said.
The Mizoram State Tobacco Control Society had directed all local tobacco manufacturers to put warning labels on packets containing tobacco products. The Mizoram chapter of Indian Society for Tobacco and Health, led by Lal Riliani, wife of Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, had provided stickers to local tobacco manufacturers, but only a few of them actually use those.
�Tuibur containers, hand-rolled cigarettes and khaini are still found without any warning stickers. We will conduct raids soon and seize all the packets not carrying warnings,� Ralte said.
Another concern is cigarettes �illegally� imported from Myanmar none of which carries pictorial health warnings. Mizoram is flooded with such imported cigarettes which are much cheaper than Indian cigarettes.
�We have confirmed that cigarettes are not included in the list of items in Indo-Myanmar border trade. We will soon crack down on those cigarettes to stop them from import,� Dr Jane said.
Despite all these efforts, Mizoram still holds the dubious distinction of being the highest tobacco consuming State in India. Beside the high incidences of different types of cancer, it has been found that the high tobacco consumption is behind the high rate of infant mortality in Mizoram.