Apex court favours 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products

Laverne Higgins
January 9, 2018

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud passed the order today after hearing the Centre, the Tobacco companies and the petitioners. The said judgment was then challenged in Supreme Court.

Against this judgment Health for Millions Trust had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. 2016. However, industrialists and businessmen who had ventured into tobacco business raised their voice against government's move and in their argument saying that there were many others products which is injurious to human health so why only tobacco products should have these pictorial warnings.

"This decision reiterates the Indian government's commitment to public health and retain India as a global leader in tobacco control", Harit Chaturvedi, chairman, surgical oncology, Max Health Care, Delhi said in a statement.

Initially one may start with smoking or chewing tobacco as an "adventure, but gradually it becomes a habit and, thereafter, it gets converted to addiction".

The high court, on December 15, previous year had struck down the 2014 amendment rules that mandated pictorial health warnings to cover 85 per cent of packaging space of tobacco products, holding that they were unconstitutional as they violated fundamental rights like the right to equality and the right to trade.

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India's tobacco packaging rules are among the world's most stringent.

Doctors and 10 medical associations on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to reverse 85% pictorial warnings on all tobacco products as directed by the Karnataka high court. The 2008 tobacco product labelling rules mandated that health warning "shall occupy at least 40% of the principal display area of the front panel of the pack and shall be positioned parallel to the top edge of the package".

It came into being based on the recommendations of experts committee, the NGO had said.

The Karnataka High Court Bench of Justices BS Patil and BV Nagarathna had struck down the 2014 rules.

"Deterioration may be a milder word and, therefore, in all possibility the expression "destruction of health" is apposite", it added, fixing the next hearing for March 12.

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