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Govt working on warning tags for cigarette packs

Nithya Subramanian
K.R. Srivats

New Delhi , April 30

IF catchy jingles and attractive taglines are a strict no-no for tobacco companies from May 1, there could be some more news. The companies may have to change the designs on their packs to include the skull-and-bones signage and other warning messages in the coming days.

The Government is now focusing its energies on finalising the warnings that will be specified on the labels as well as arriving at a suitable definition of educational institutions. Officials in the Health Ministry said that consultations have already begun with industry for this purpose.

``The Tobacco Control legislation has said that packs must contain a pictorial depiction of skull and bones as well as warnings, we are talking to the industry and are working on finalisation of the technical details of the pictorial signages,'' said a Health Ministry official. Internationally, in countries where the ban on tobacco has been implemented, packs of cigarettes contain large size warnings, with the brand name in small font size.

Also, though the tobacco control legislation was enacted in 2003 the Centre has refrained from implementing a provision that prohibited a person from selling cigarettes or any tobacco product in an area within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution. "We are in the process of defining an educational institution. There are schools, colleges and other learning centres catering to the educational needs of various age groups. We have to arrive at a consensus on this," they added.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Friday categorically said that surrogate advertising is completely banned. ``The law is very clear in banning all kinds of advertising including surrogate. We will see what kind of advertising these companies release in the forthcoming days,'' the officials said.

The Health Ministry has already written to the State Government asking them to implement the ban on tobacco advertising, smoking in public places and sale of cigarettes to minors. ``The States would have to notify the concerned authorities such as bus conductors, drivers, cinema hall managers on the ban," they added.

Beedis, too, in firing line

WITH the ad ban on tobacco products coming into effect from May 1, even tobacco-free beedis are finding it tough to make it to the popular television channels.

Dalmia Consumer Care, which manufactures Vardan, has not been able to advertise its products on the Doordarshan.

``We have been fighting with Doordarshan. They accepted our ads but did not allow us to show smoking in any manner. The problem is they are not differentiating between smoking of tobacco and tobacco-free smoking

(alternates to tobacco). We, therefore, pulled out our ads from DD. But we will be able to convince them that tobacco-free smoking is safe,'' said Mr Sudershan Banerjee, Managing Director, Dalmia Consumer Care.

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