Earlier this week, the Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had assured a bench headed by Justice BN Aggarwal in the Court after senior counsel Indira Jaisingh, appearing for NGO Health for Millions, alleged the Centre was dragging its feet on the issue.
Earlier this month, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on tobacco warnings were supposed to meet on 8 April 2009 and further dilution or delay to pictorial health warnings on tobacco products was apprehended by many health activists. However the meeting didn't take place.
Also, a survey conducted in four Indian States by Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health and Voluntary Healh Association of India (VHAI) reports 98% of public supporting the pack warnings and 99% supporting government action to strengthen health warnings requiring them to be large and including pictures of all tobacco products.
Pictorial warnings on tobacco products are intended to increase consumer knowledge of the deadly health effects of tobacco consumption, to encourage cessation and to discourage uptake. In India they also break the linguistic and cultural barrier, in addition to informing the illiterate population (a large proportion of this segment smokes bidis) about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
Hope the authorities will not dilute or delay the implementation of this health policy any further, and stick to their commitment to enforce the pictorial health warnings on tobacco products by 30th May 2009.