• CII, FICCI oppose 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products

    Industry bodies CII and FICCI has made representations to union health ministry to reduce the pictorial health warning for cigarettes from current 85% of the pack arguing that it will flourish the sales of illegal and smuggled cigarettes in the country.

    The chambers in their representation argued that tobacco regulation in India has led to proliferation of illegal and contraband products, increased unscrupulous trade activity and has become a threat to livelihood for millions of farmers and legal industry as compared to its objective of tobacco control.

    CII and FICCI in their letters to the ministry requested the government to take a balanced view on the issue of graphical warning and take steps to curb illegal trade and production, thereafter address the requisite level of regulation based on the assessment of the prevailing situation.

    “Over regulation in every industry drives trade underground and defeats the purpose. Until we are able to rein in the illegal trade in the sector effectively, it would be desirable to maintain the status-quo on pictorial warning,” CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee wrote in his letter.

    The Supreme Court has recently asked cigarette makers to produce packs with 85% pictorial warning till the Karnataka High Court passes its judgement on the fate of the various writ petitions filed by the industry challenging this rule. The apex court has asked the High Court to pass its judgement within eight weeks.

    Till now, cigarette packs are required to carry graphical warning covering 40% of the front of the pack.

    The Indian legal cigarette industry has been facing a continuous drop in demand because of high taxation and the growth of duty evaded illegal cigarettes that do not carry pictorial warnings. Since 2012-13, the excise duty on cigarettes, at a per unit level, has gone up cumulatively by 118% with increase in taxation in every successive year.

    As a result, legal cigarettes today represent only 11% of tobacco consumption in India. As per estimates, the industry is down from 110 billion sticks sold per year to 95 billion sticks a year, even though total tobacco consumption has gone up. Jori Lehtera Womens Jersey

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