Srinagar, September 20
According to a study conducted by Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) significant number of widely-consumed popular tobacco brands of cigarettes, bidis and packaged smokeless tobacco products sold across Jammu and Kashmir are displaying the new pictorial health warnings covering 85 percent of the packages,
The data collected during June-July 2016-two months after implementation of the new rules claims that major tobacco companies are printing the new 85% warnings on the tobacco packs thus complying with the law and as mandated by the Government of India.
“The evidence is indisputable and shows that tobacco manufacturers are capable of complying with all the provisions of the government’s mandate, which includes a picture and the text message ‘Warning- Smoking causes throat/mouth cancer;” located on top in both front and back of the packs and covering 85 percent of the principal display area,” the study says.
Pertinently, a total of 100 cigarette packs were observed from 6 brands of two tobacco companies, a total of 80 bidi packs were observed from 8 brands of 8 tobacco companies and a total of 100 smokeless tobacco packs were observed from 10 brands of 10 tobacco companies, in pre-identified tobacco vendors (tobacco specialist, kiosk and small grocery stores) across Srinagar City.
The study found most of the tobacco brands to be fully compliant with the new 85 percent pictorial warnings on both sides, as mandated in the law that came into effect from 1 April 2016.
“53% of the cigarette packs were fully compliant with all the labeling requirements of the law-graphic, text content, location (front & back and top of the pack), and size (85 percent of the principal display area) of the health warning labels. 13% of the bidi packs displayed a pictorial and text health warning label that covered 85 percent of the principal display area of the pack and 47% of the smokeless tobacco packs displayed a pictorial and text health warning label that covered 85 percent of the principal display area of both sides of the pack,” the study says.
“Even though some tobacco companies are opposing in implementing the new health warnings on tobacco products, the study results show that implementing 85 percent pictorial warnings on tobacco products is possible as well as practical and tobacco companies are abiding by the law. The Government must now strictly enforce the new rules as health warnings on tobacco packages are a direct, cost-effective means of communication to inform the health risks of tobacco consumption to the consumers, new users and illiterate masses,” Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Association of India, said.
Importantly, 26.6% population of in the state is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Out of these users 41.6% are males and 10.3% females. The average age at daily initiation of tobacco use is 17.3 years in adults, 17.5 years in males and 14.9 years in females, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.