India ranks No. 3 in Pictorial Health Warnings on Tobacco Packages, says international report

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 10 With the implementation of 85 per cent pictorial warnings on all tobacco product packs, India has moved several spots up into third place on a global ranking index that surveyed tobacco health warnings in 205 countries.

India has climbed up from the 136th position in 2014, according to the ‘Cigarette Package Health Warnings International Status Report’ released today by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) at the ongoing seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in New Delhi.

The 2016 Report is the fifth in the series of reports brought out every two years by CCS, Canada's largest national cancer charity.

As many as 105 countries have finalised requirements for pictorial warnings. Nepal leads the pack with 90 per cent tobacco product warnings on both front and back of the packs. India shares the third spot with Thailand, which also requires 85 per cent front and back pictorial warnings.

On the effectiveness of large pictorial warnings, the report notes: “Warnings are always working — 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A pack a day smoker would take his or her pack out 20 times per day, 7,300 times per year. Warnings are also seen by those around the consumers, such as family, friends, and co-workers.”

Thanking the people of Kerala for the support in this campaign for large pictorial warnings mooted in public health interest, Dr Paul Sebastian, Chairman, Tobacco Free Kerala, said, “People from various walks of Kerala society, including medical professionals, teachers, and students, wholeheartedly joined with the rest of the country in this endeavour. Dissuading initiation to all forms of tobacco use to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in our state should be our collective goal.”

The CCS Report also identifies the build-up of significant global momentum toward plain packaging of tobacco products – with four countries making plain packs mandatory and 14 working towards the policy. Australia was the first country to implement plain packaging in 2012.

Plain packaging prohibits brand colours, logos and design elements on packages, and requires that packages only come in a standard shape, material, and format. Under plain packaging, health warnings would continue to appear, the Report adds. 

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