In the attempt to impose bigger picture warning on tobacco products, the center has indefinitely postponed the move after a panel of MPs asserted that the move could affect manufacturers and tobacco farmers as it needed time to measure its economic impact. In a surprising statement, the head of the panel says there are no studies based in India that link tobacco to cancer.
“There is no Indian survey report to prove that tobacco consumption leads to cancer. All the studies are done abroad. Cancer does not happen only because of tobacco. We have to study the Indian context, as four crore people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are dependent on bidi-making through Tendupatta,” said BJP MP Dilip Kumar Gandhi, who is the chairperson of the committee on subordinate legislation.
“It is our responsibility to bring awareness. All our decisions come from surveys done in other countries. We should have our own survey and then the decision be taken,” Gandhi said.
Criticizing and defending the statement, Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule said, “Tobacco causes cancer is a reality. My father has been an oral cancer survivor for nearly 15 years now and I have experienced the suffering first hand. We recently lost a colleague RR Patil, who was like an elder brother, to cancer due to tobacco.”
According to the proposed health ministry notification regarding amendment to Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008 , it was supposed to seek increase in the size of specified warning from the existing 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the main display area of the packets of tobacco products.