Prime Minister Narendra Modi has favoured bigger pictorial warning on tobacco products and reportedly asked the Healthy Ministry to increase the pictorial warning on beedi, cigarette and chewable tobacco packets to 65% from the existing 40%.
Modi has endorsed larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products and asked Health Minister J.P. Nadda to appoint a committee to look into the matter, sources added. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference in Bengaluru that the government intends to discourage tobacco use.
But Jaitley distanced the Bharatiya Janata Party from its MP Dilip Gandhi’s comments that there was no evidence linking tobacco with cancer. “In individual capacity, people can say anything. The government takes measured decisions.”
Gandhi is a member of the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation on tobacco. “A multi-pronged approach will be taken to discourage the use of tobacco. Health Minister J.P. Nadda is here, he will decide,” Jaitley said.
The health ministry heeded a recommendation of the committee when it decided to keep in abeyance an October 2014 notification that made it mandatory for all tobacco packets to carry a pictorial warning, covering 85 percent of its principal display area.
Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda told the media that his ministry was stable on its stand against tobacco. “Our stand is well-known. The BJP, health ministry, and I maintain that tobacco consumption is not healthy and should be avoided,” he said.
Questions have also been raised over the propriety of an MP with significant interest in the beedi industry being in the parliamentary panel.
Shyam Charan Gupta, a BJP MP from Allahabad, is a member of the panel and has openly said that there was no evidence to show that tobacco causes cancer and that 85 percent pictorial warnings would affect the beedi industry adversely. He wanted the display area of anti-tobacco pictorial warning to stay at 40%. (With Inputs from IANS)