India has been ranked fifth in the listing of countries that have a pictorial health warning on tobacco products, with experts here quick to add that the country is making tremendous progress towards creating public awareness on the health hazards of tobacco abuse.
‘The Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report’ was released recently by the Canadian Cancer Society which documents global progress on plain packaging. It has ranked 206 countries and territories on the size of their health warnings on cigarette packages and lists countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings.
East Timor is ranked first with 85% of the front and 100% of the back of the packaging being used for pictorial warnings. Nepal follows with 90% coverage on both sides. Indian packaging has the warning on 85% of both sides. The report found that 118 countries and territories have now made picture health warnings on cigarette packages mandatory, up from 100 in 2016. Canada was the first to insist on picture health warnings in 2001.
India, meanwhile, is the only SAARC country to have a Quit-Line number on tobacco products and the fourth in Asia after Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The current pictorial warnings on both sides of all packets of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products in India came into effect in April 2016 on the direction of the Rajasthan High Court and, subsequently, the Supreme Court of India.