In a landmark judgment, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India refused to entertain any stay on the implementation of 85% pictorial warnings on tobacco packs and related products. As per the judgment passed yesterday by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Hon’ble Mr Justice Amitava Roy, it is ordered that cigarette manufacturers to comply with the new rules. The Bidi & Tobacco Manufacturers Association have been contending to get the stay on the grounds that pictorial warning should not be more than 40%.
Indian Medical Association has been fighting for the implementation of the 85% of the pictorial health warnings since long and welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision. According to them, tobacco consumption is one of the primary reasons for the increase in the incidence of life-threatening diseases such as strokes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, asthma and all efforts must be made to educate people about its overall impact on a person’s overall health and well-being.
In force since April 1, 2016, the stringent rules mandate an increase in the size of health pictorial warnings from the current 40 percent of the surface of a cigarette packet to up to 85 percent. The Supreme Court in its judgment has also transferred all the petitions filed and pending in different High Courts in India to the High Court of Karnataka.
Mr Rahul Gupta, Advocate appeared on behalf of IMA, who had filed an application for impleadment and emphasized before the court not to grant any stay order in the matter in the interest of public at large.
Commenting on the Judgment, Dr S S Agarwal, National President and Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General, IMA said, “Ideally tobacco products should be banned in the country and if that is not possible, 85% pictorial health warnings are the only answer. In a country like India, where most of the tobacco and bidi users are from the rural population and are illiterate, pictorial warnings are stronger than text warnings. Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has merged all the pending cases and transferred them to Karnataka High Court to decide on merit. Till the case is decided, as of now, all the tobacco products will have to carry the approved 85% pictorial warnings on their packets on both sides. Needless to say, tobacco is the biggest menace of the healthcare of the country. More money is spent on treating Tobacco-related illness than the revenue generation”.
“It is a victory not only for the medical profession but also for the public at large “ concluded Dr Aggarwal, who also leads the IMA-led Doctors for Tobacco Control in India (DFTCI) forum.
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