Our only interest is to save lives: IMA says in support of 85% pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packs in India
New Delhi (April 11, 2016) – Two lakh member doctors of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) strongly urge the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India (MoHFW) to withstand all tobacco industry resistance to the new 85% pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages enforced from April 1, 2016.
Large and graphic pack warnings are critical for India because of its low literacy levels. The warnings will effectively communicate the range of diseases caused due to tobacco use, discourage non-users, including youth from starting and encourage current users to stop. Other countries may have large text warnings but we need to reach out to those who are unable to read. Therefore, 85% pictorial health warnings are necessary in India.
The issue of illicit trade of tobacco products is unrelated to pictorial health warnings and large warnings do not affect such trade activities. We are against illicit trade of all products, which must be dealt with stringent action by the Government.
“The sky-rocketing health costs of tobacco use in India, which stand at 1,04,500 crore rupees, have devastating effects on the lives of people as well as the economy. Those working in or affiliated to the tobacco industry must publicly acknowledge the harsh consequences of tobacco use and their capacities must be built to become community based quit counsellors as an alternate employment opportunity,” said IMA Dr SS Agarwal National president IMA.
Tobacco use causes a number of short-term and long-term health effects. It majorly accelerates early ageing and causes heart attacks and cancers, erectile dysfunction and paralysis. The reasons to stay away or quit tobacco far outweigh reasons to save the tobacco industry from running losses.
“IMA only has one direct interest: to save lives. Workers engaged in tobacco production have to deal with several debilitating medical conditions like green tobacco sickness in the farms and lung diseases in the bidi factories. These people must transition to other sectors. The Government is enforcing measures like the 85% pack warnings to de-normalize tobacco use, so as to protect youth and poor from becoming addicted to tobacco. We fully support this initiative, said Dr K K Aggarwal Honorary Secretary general IMA and President Heart Care Foundation of India.