67% of cigarette packets display pictorial warnings: Study

New Delhi: Only 67 per cent of cigarette packets of various brands in the country display the mandatory 85-per-cent-pictorial warning since the rule came into force on April 1 this year, a national-level study said on Tuesday.

The results of the study — conducted by the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), in association with health organisations in different states — were reached after observing packets of cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobaccos in eight different states with higher number of smokers and other tobacco consumers in comparison to others.

According to the study, the categories included 786 cigarette packets from 24 different brands of four tobacco companies, 665 packets from seven different companies manufacturing smokeless tobacco — both of identified and unidentified companies — and 539 bidi packets, also of identified and non-identified companies.

The sample packets taken during the study were from pre-identified tobacco vendors.

“Sixty-seven per cent of the cigarette packs were fully compliant with all the labelling requirements of the law, graphics, text content, location (front, back and top of the packs), and size (85 per cent of the principal display area) of the health warning labels,” said the study.

For bidi packs, it said as little as 16 per cent of those displayed a pictorial and text health warning label that covered 85 per cent of the principal display area of the pack.

“Forty-six per cent of the smokeless tobacco packs displayed a pictorial and text health warning label that covered 85 per cent of the principal display area of both sides of the pack,” the study said.

Among the cigarette brands found implementing the norms are Bristol, Gold Flake, Navy Cut, B&H Classic, Flake, Capstan, India Kings, Berkley, Players, Scissors and Duke, among others.

The smokeless tobacco brands which have implemented the 85 per cent pictorial warnings include Kuber, Baba 120, Miraj, V1, Tulsi, S-4, Dilbag and Pan Bahar, among others.

Among the bidi brands were Haribai Beedis (Haribai Beedis Works), Ganesh Beedies (Mangalore Beedis), 501 (Ganesh), Vani Nava Shakti (unidentifed tobacco company) and Prakash (NTIC), among others.

“The government needs to redouble its efforts to strictly enforce the implementation of the new pictorial warnings on every tobacco product sold across the country and must aim for full compliance of the law by all tobacco manufacturers,” said Seema Gupta, Director – Tobacco Control RCH, Voluntary Health Association of India.

Bhavna B Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Association of India, said: “Even though some tobacco companies are opposing implementation of the new health warnings on tobacco products, the study results show that implementing 85 per cent pictorial warning on tobacco products is possible/ practical and tobacco companies are abiding by the law.”

According to the statistics, tobacco-related diseases kill about 2,500 Indians daily and over 10 lakh Indians every year. An estimated 5,500 youth and children — as young as eight years old — initiate use of tobacco daily.

India has 12 crore tobacco users, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.