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Government escalates fight against Tobacco in India

Tobacco usage is rampant in India. It is used in many formats: chew-able to smoking form. With a population over 1.2 billion, India has close to 300 million tobacco users. Indian governments have shown resolve to tackle this menace, particularly in last 13 years. Various legislations have been brought in at central level as well as state levels with mixed and varying results. Yet due to sheer size of population and rampant usage, India is facing no less than a sort of tobacco epidemic. Experts believe that deaths due to tobacco may reach 1.5 millions (15 lakh) per year by 2020. Now by taking on the issue of warning size on the packs, it seems government is taking the fight head on with tobacco companies who have strong lobbying capabilities and money to aid their efforts. – NewsGram

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s health ministry on Tuesday ordered government agencies to enforce a new rule for bigger health warnings on tobacco packets, stepping up a fight against the $10 billion cigarette industry that has shut down its factories in protest.

The government wants manufacturers to cover 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface in health warnings, up from 20 percent now.

But ITC Ltd, part-owned by British American Tobacco, and Godfrey Phillips, partner of U.S.-based Philip Morris International, have opposed the measure, saying a parliament panel had suggested the health warning to be half the cigarette pack’s size.

K.C. Samria, a joint secretary in the health ministry, on Monday sought support of several other ministries, including foreign affairs and revenue department, to ensure strict implementation of the new rules, letters seen by Reuters showed.

A man smokes a cigarette (tobacco) along a road in Mumbai, India, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
Tobacco: A man smokes a cigarette along a road in Mumbai, India, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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