Government dithers on implementing health warnings on tobacco products

The Supreme Court has severely indicted the government for not implementing the pictorial signs and health warnings on cigarette packets, saying, "Is the government doing this to control (the) rapidly increasing population?"

After repeated delays, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam assured the court that the government would introduce displaying of statutory pictorial and health warnings on tobacco products by 31 May.

After the government failed in implementing the tobacco health warnings, NGO Health for Millions filed a case in the Supreme Court where its counsel Indira Jaisingh said that government had scaled down the pictorial warnings from the original warnings on tobacco products.

Jaisingh said that the government had originally wanted to display a skull-and-crossbone image on all tobacco products as well as the warning that tobacco smoke can even harm a baby while still in mother's womb.

But the government has now diluted the image by using X-ray images of lungs on the label of tobacco products and instead of displaying the skull-and-crossbone image, now the image of a scorpion is expected to be shown.

Jaisingh argued that the skull-and-crossbone image is used globally as a symbol of health warning and the image of a scorpion would have no health recall image for Indian masses