Hyderabad: Anti-tobacco activists, doctors and voluntary organisations have criticised the move of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), to defer the implementation of new pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages.
The new pictorial health warnings on tobacco products, which were supposed to be implemented from September 1, have now been deferred to December 1. The Ministry’s decision has disappointed voluntary organisations and individuals who are actively involved in the anti-tobacco advocacy.
“By delaying the next round of pictorial warnings on tobacco products, MOHFW is not only contradicting its own advisory to hold back tobacco use during the Covid pandemic but it is also adversely impacting the motivation of tobacco users to quit while being in conducive environment socially, ” Dr Rakesh Gupta, Consultant working for Tobacco Cessation, said.
A similar notification was issued this April with same images, however in the new notification the warning has been watered down by extending the date of implementation and by removing definition of package which was specifically inserted to facilitate action against PoS (point of sale) promotion by display of cigarette cartons.
This concession has come as a huge shock to public health workers as there is extensive drive pan India to discourage tobacco use to contain the spread of Covid-19, the press release said.
At a time when the MOHFW sent advisories to all States for taking necessary preventive measures by prohibiting the sale and use of tobacco products in public places to contain the spread of the Covid-19, the new advisory can increase the risk and severity of pulmonary infections because of damage to upper airways and a decrease in pulmonary immune function, they said.
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