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Indian Government Delays Implementation Of Ruling For Graphic Images To Appear On Tobacco Products

Despite a recent ruling by India’s Supreme Court that all tobacco products must have pictorial warnings by May 31, one week after the ruling was to go into effect, the warning labels have yet to appear on packaging, the National reports.

The main reason “the government is not serious about [the] implementation” of the Supreme Court ruling is a fear of backlash from the estimated 45 million people living in India with ties to the tobacco industry, according to anti-tobacco advocate Mahesh Chaturvedi.

The National writes, “According to a recent health ministry report, more than 300 [million] people above the age of nine in India use tobacco products, with new smokers increasing by between five per cent to seven per cent a year.” While India’s tobacco industry generates more “than 95 billion rupees [about $20 billion] annually in taxes, 80 percent of which comes from cigarette sales,” a study found “tobacco use drains around 350bn rupees [$73.9 billion] from the Indian economy in the form of healthcare costs and productivity losses.”

The article examines the resistance from India’s beedi manufacturers to display the graphic warnings on their products. “The highly labour-intensive- based industry, which provides large-scale employment, gives it a powerful voice and that is one of the reasons why the government has been silent,” on implementing the Supreme Court ruling, Chaturvedi said (Andrabi, the National, 6/8).