Civil Society extols govt commitment on large pictorial health warnings

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Srinagar: Welcoming the government’s move for implementing 85% pictorial health warnings on both sides of all tobacco products, various civil society organizations Monday said that the decision will serve as a long-term investment in safeguarding the health and well-being of citizens of the country.   
“There is wealth of evidence in support and a worldwide trend of adopting larger pictorial health warnings. Countries in our Region, like Nepal (90%), Thailand (85%), Sri Lanka (80%) and Myanmar (75%) have also implemented large pictorial health warnings. India is now among the top few countries to have large-sized warnings in accordance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” a statement issued here said.
Importantly, large pictorial health warnings on tobacco products are proving to be a cost effective means of increasing public awareness about the real dangers of tobacco use and can motivate tobacco users to quit and prevent youth from tobacco use.
The statement also criticized the recent advertisements sponsored by the tobacco industry terming it as a desperate attempt to mislead the government and public and undermine this vital tobacco control measure. 
“Threats of closing production and claiming loss of livelihoods are old tricks employed by tobacco companies worldwide to derail this strong public health measure,” the statement added.
“There is no evidence to suggest that pictorial warnings have adversely affected livelihoods of tobacco growers and workers, since their introduction in 2009. On the contrary, production of tendu, bidi tobacco, bidis and cigarettes has increased year on year, since 2010. Millions of people engaged in tobacco farming, manufacture and production activities face economic and health hazards,” the statement claimed.
“We urge the Government of India to focus on the evidence coupled with effective action to address the burden of deaths and disease due to tobacco use. The country’s leadership has been commendable and has elevated India’s position as one of the global leaders in the area of tobacco control,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive Voluntary Health Association of India.

 

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