Isn’t it something you have heard and seen innumerable times? Still it is impossible to get rid of this miasma and stop it from killing.
Let’s have a brief introduction of this killer before talking about the facts. Tobacco comes in various forms broadly classified into smokeless tobacco and smoking products like cigarette, cigars, bidis, etc. Smokeless tobacco can be either snuffed or chewed. To name a few khaini and gutkha fall under this category. These products contain nicotine which is an addictive drug. Nicotine is rapidly absorbed into bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled or smoked. Upon entering bloodstream nicotine immediately stimulates secretion of epinephrine which in turn activates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. Tobacco consumption can have disastrous effects including cancer upon long term use.
Despite everyone knowing the hazards of tobacco, it was the need of the hour to put an elaborate graphic warning on the tobacco packs about the health risks associated with it. Presenting itself as a true global leader India made critical decision of ensuring pre-tested graphic health warnings covering 85% of the surface area of tobacco packs sold in India. The initial announcement was made in October 2014 but the implementation was unfortunately delayed by one year. It is now being followed in India with making us one of the few nations with such a large area dedicated to graphic warning. This was definitely effective in stopping many potential tobacco users from being tobacco abusers.
It has been proved that large tobacco warning can save lives. In a report published by WHO it is clearly mentioned that -“As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India (GATS 2010) covering the age group 15 years and above, 71% of cigarette smokers noticed health warnings on cigarette packages and 38% thought of quitting because of the warning label; 62% of bidi smokers noticed health warnings on bidi package and 29% thought of quitting because of the warning label, and 63% of users of smokeless tobacco noticed health warnings on smokeless tobacco product package and 34% thought of quitting because of the warning label.”
An international status report says that “Health warnings on packages of tobacco products are a highly cost-effective means of health communication. Package warnings reach every smoker (and consumers of other tobacco products) every day. Warnings are always working — 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A pack a day smoker would take his or her pack out 20 times per day, 7300 times per year. Warnings are also seen by those around the consumers, such as family, friends and co-workers.”
This step is appreciated by everyone except the tobacco industries who have nothing else more important than selling death and thus they have been continuously arguing against it. The bad news is that they have been able to seek some supporters too. A committee of Indian parliamentarians heavily influenced by the tobacco industry had recommended that increased graphic health warnings championed by the Ministry of Health, should be reduced in size. This will certainly not be in favor of the population already ailing from this epidemic. But fortunately the government has stayed firm on the new requirement of 85% pictorial warnings, in spite of tobacco industry mounting pressure by various means such as stopping production of tobacco products.
To save as many lives as possible from this avoidable reason we request you to sign the petition by Senthil Kumar which supports the 85% graphic warning. Every individual counts. To go the petition, please click here.
This petition is written by Senthil Kumar from Bengaluru who is himself a victim of tobacco. He is a 35 year old, suffering from cancer after six years of continuous consumption. He lost his jaw, a part of his cheek and lip to the deadly disease. You can understand the importance of this warning through his experience. He says “Hardly did I know that chewing tobacco would be this dangerous. A bottle containing poison has a label with the word danger written in bold. Statutory warning on tobacco packets should be in bold and large letters with pictorial reference to alert young consumers with an aim to prevent them from ruining their lives. People should be made aware of its adverse impact on health, so that these packets should never be used to boost the revenue of tobacco companies”.