Odisha MPs back bill on tobacco control


Bhubaneswar : A private member’s bill introduced in the last winter session of parliament to seek strict tobacco control measures in India has received support from Odisha’s MPs and health experts, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP said Wednesday.

The bill of BJD’s Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, which is expected to come for discussion in the budget session of parliament commencing Feb 21, seeks plain packaging of tobacco products in India in line with a legislation enacted in Australia recently.

Several parliament members from Odisha’s ruling BJD have expressed their support to the bill, Panda said.

Among those who have extended their support include Shashi Bhusan Behera and Dilip Kumar Tirkey — both members of the Rajya Sabha from the state, he said.

“Plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products is essential to reduce the appeal of tobacco use, especially among youngsters,” he added.

“In our country, where more than one million people die annually due to tobacco use and the annual health costs of tobacco related illnesses are a staggering $6.5 billion, this proposed amendment to the Indian tobacco control law will reduce initiation into tobacco use,” he pointed out.

The bill seeks to remove extraneous colours, embossing and misleading elements on tobacco packs, thus eliminating the “badge value” of all forms of tobacco product packaging. Brand and product names can be used in a standardized, prescribed style, font and colour, it says.

Two voluntary organisations – Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY) – have been engaged in advocacy with various parliamentarians for mainstreaming tobacco control.

The tobacco industry uses attractive packaging and aggressive marketing to lure people into tobacco use. Australia is leading the way by introducing plain packaging as a powerful legislation to counter this industry tactic,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president of PHFI.