ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Graphic Measures

Pictorial warnings on tobacco products are the next step in the war against tobacco.

From December 1, manufacturers of cigarettes, gutkha, bidis and other tobacco products will compulsorily have to print pictures of cancerous tumours, diseased throats and babies affected by passive smoking on the product packs. This is the next stage in the battle to wean consumers away from the addiction by showing them the depredations caused by tobacco consumption, which according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) claims the lives of 9,00,000 Indians every year and causes sickness in millions more. This is no clearcut battle, for there are lives on the other side too – the livelihoods of 35 million Indians (tobacco industry estimates, of course) who are directly or indirectly employed in the cultivation and processing of tobacco, who work in the tobacco industries and who are involved in the sale of tobacco products. That, however, cannot be a justification for not campaigning against the growth of tobacco consumption. The health costs are too immense to let the staus quo be.

An ICMR study showed that the tobacco-related disease groups– cancer, coronary artery afflictions and chronic obstructive lung ailments – cost the country Rs 27,700 crore in 1999 and Rs 30,833 crore in 2002-03. A government survey found that 57 per cent of men and 11 per cent of women use tobacco in some form with 33 per cent of adult males smoking. The health ministry says that 40 per cent of India’s health problems stem from tobacco use. In 2000, the medical journal Lancet quoted ICMR as saying that 1,60,000 people develop cancer in India each year as a result of tobacco consumption, while 4.5 million are affected with angina and 3.9 million with chronic obstructive lung disease due to smoking.

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