Present tobacco pictorial warnings unclear: Health ministry


New Delhi : Even as the government is delaying the notification of new pictorial warnings on tobacco products, a health ministry official Monday said they have received feedback that the present pictorial warnings are unclear to people.

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“We have had feedback that people don’t understand pictorial warnings on tobacco. If there is a picture of lungs X-ray, some people are not able to understand. Again scorpion is a sign of poison, but some are not able to understand,” health ministry additional secretary Keshav Desraju told reporters here.

The present pictorial warnings on tobacco packs feature lungs X-ray, a cross section of lungs with related cancer, and a scorpion.

“Globally, pictorial warnings have proved to be deterrent to tobacco use,” he said.

When asked about the new pictorial warnings which were supposed to be enforced from December last year, the senior official said: “New warnings will come, consultations are going on,” he said, without giving a time frame.

Desraju, however, said he was unaware of any pressure from tobacco lobbies behind the delay in the implementation of new pictorial warnings.

“Many of the buyers in urban areas understand the meaning of the symbols but they still buy. Ultimately, it’s the people who will have to understand that it’s bad for them,” he added.

A survey done by an anti-tobacco advocacy group last year said that only 20.6 percent of cigarette smokers, 15 percent of bidi smokers and 13.2 percent of smokeless tobacco users either read or looked at the warning labels.