Several advertisements have routinely appeared in newspapers of May 31, 2018, as an annual ritual to celebrate No-Tobacco-Day. But unfortunately tobacco-lobby in India is so strong that it even managed super-powered group of Ministers in earlier UPA regime to dilute area and design of pictorial-warnings on cigarette-packs against wishes of the then Union Health Minister Dr A Ramadoss and other senior officials of Union Health ministry. Proportion of pictorial-warning area on cigarette packs in India is lowest in the world with Brazil even having 100 per cent area on both front and pack panels of cigarette-packs. In fact, pictorial-warnings however bigger or stringent are totally useless and ineffective for smokers.
Only remedy for effectively curb in smoking is to follow sensible countries like Bhutan and Ireland by imposing a complete ban on manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the country. Even family-members of smokers will support such a bold step, because it is the family which suffers from death of persons caused by smoking. Smoking is an addiction started out of fashion at the young age when initial puffs even cause discomfort. Revenue-loss from ban on cigarettes will be more than compensated by funds saved on tobacco-related diseases. If self-regulation is the policy to check human evils, then Union Government should withdraw attempt-to-suicide from Indian Penal Code. Likewise, using helmets by scooterists should also be made self-regulatory rather than being forced as compulsory.
Shocking statement by YC Deveshwar, Chief of leading cigarette-manufacturing company ITC is also recalled that demand for imposing restrictions on cigarettes in India is on behest of foreign companies through some Indian Non-Government-Organisations (NGOs) so that foreign cigarette-manufacturers could smuggle imported cigarettes in India. He was also critical of raising taxes on cigarettes for the same reason. Significantly our government committed great disservice to the nation by honouring this cigarette-advocate with Padma Bhushan in the year 2011.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)