GUWAHATI, April 28 - The Union Health Ministry�s notification to enforce new 85 per cent pictorial warning on tobacco packets has fallen on deaf ears with the State Government mechanism apparently doing nothing to implement the same even after weeks have passed since the new rule has come to force.
As per the new rule, pictorial warnings must be displayed on both sides of a tobacco pack covering 85 per cent area of it, with effect from April 1, 2016.
Although the month of April is coming to a close, tobacco companies are still selling the same old packets with no actions seen from the law enforcing agencies in Assam against the tobacco companies, retailers and distributors, allege activists working in the field.
The situation is contrary to the state of affairs in places like Maharashtra, Bihar and Goa, where tobacco products worth crores of rupees have already been seized, claim sources.
Even Joint Secretary to the Government of India, Health & Family Welfare Ministry, KC Samria, through a letter dated April 1, 2016, to the Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments including Assam, requested the respective governments to implement the new pictorial warning rule.
The new rule came into force after the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, was enacted in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 7, Section 8, Sub- Section (2) of Section 9, Section 10 and Section 31 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 COPTA).
The Central Government, too, issued a notification for enforcement of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, from April 1, 2016.
Tobacco companies, on the other hand, have expressed strong resentment over the new pack rule, saying it is too harsh a rule to follow.
It is to be mentioned that around 30 court cases are pending at the Supreme Court of India and other courts of Karnataka and Rajasthan pertaining to the new pictorial warning rule filed both by the tobacco and anti-tobacco lobbies. �
It is a proven fact that tobacco is the main cause of cancer. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2010, tobacco consumption kills about 10 lakh people every year in India.
In Assam, 30 lakh people use cigarettes and bidis, while 71 lakh people use smokeless tobacco. According to experts, one-third of these will die of heart diseases and pulmonary cancers.