Cigarette firms suspend production over health warnings

India's top two cigarette makers yesterday said they had halted cigarette production due to lack of clarity over printing pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs.

According to a government order all tobacco and cigarette manufacturing firms would need to carry explicit pictures of the health hazards of smoking on their products from 1 December, as part of efforts to create greater awareness of the harmful effects of the habit. 

Both ITC and Godfrey Philips, the leading cigarette makers in the country, have halted manufacturing at their plants as they have not been informed about the pictures they are supposed to print on the packs, according to a report by AFP.

A spokesman for the company said from its Kolkata headquarters that the company cannot produce cigarette packets till what to print on the packets was made known.

Cheap, rolled-up tobacco leaves (beedis) and chewing tobacco (gutka) constitute around 85 per cent of the Indian tobacco industry with the rest made-up of pre-packaged cigarettes.

The industry will be discussing the issue with the health ministry in the coming days.