As per the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, subsequently amended in 2008 and 2009, the specified health warning rules notified by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on 31.5.2009 have to be rotated after every 12 months and the next rotation is due on 31.5.2010. As a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control the MoHFW has to rotate the health warnings on tobacco product packs on a regular basis.

The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) (Amendment) Rules, 2010 have been notified vide G.S.R. No. 176 (E) dated 5th March 2010. The new specified health warnings for both smoking and chewing of smokeless forms of tobacco will come into effect from 1st June 2010.

Tobacco is the foremost cause of preventable death in the world today. In India, the tobacco attributable deaths currently range between 8 lakh to 9 lakh per year. The cost of the tobacco attributable burden of just three groups of diseases (cancer, heart disease and lung cancer) was estimated Rs. 30,833 crores in 2002-03.

In view of the huge loss caused by tobacco use to the public health exchequer, a comprehensive legislation to prohibit advertising and regulate production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products, the comprehensive tobacco control legislation was enacted on 18th May 2003. The salient features of this legislation include total ban on direct and indirect advertisements of all tobacco products, prohibition on sponsorship of sports and cultural events which encourage tobacco use; ban on smoking in public places, ban on sale of tobacco products to minors; ban on sale of cigarettes and tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions, mandatory pictorial depiction of specified health warnings and clear indication of nicotine and tar contents on packets and cartons of all tobacco products.

Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 mandates pictorial warnings on all tobacco product packs. Evidence shows that one of the most effective ways to warn the public about ill-effects of tobacco use is to put pictorial health warnings on all packages of tobacco products.

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