India has the third largest pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in the world, according to a report by the Canadian Cancer Society. The report was released during a conference of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Back in 2014, India was ranked 136th, but it jumped to 3rd place after the Centre ruled that all pictorial warnings on all tobacco products would have to cover 85 percent of the box containing them, as against the previous 40 percent. Some surveys have found that pictorial warnings do act as a deterrent.
Fight against tobacco
Experts contend that such pictorial warnings work a lot better in low-income countries, where there are higher rates of illiteracy and where governments may not possess adequate resources. Tobacco is a leading cause of mortality in India, with nearly 10 lakh deaths attributed to annually its consumption. The World Health Organization recently said that the economic burden attributable to tobacco-related diseases in India stands at a staggering Rs 1,04,500 crore annually.
The WHO has pitched for large-size warnings on packs to control tobacco consumption in a cost-effective manner. Many studies on the impact of Australia’s first ground-breaking plain packaging tobacco laws have shown that there was a “statistically significant increase” in the number of people who have either thought about or made attempts to quit smoking. Across the world, tobacco-related multinational companies have admitted that their products are harmful for general consumption and agreed to adopt stiffer packaging rules as part of their legal obligations.