Smoking out the Elephant in the Room

In this article, the author calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry. This article was written with reference to Rules that made it mandatory for health warnings to cover 85% of the total display area on packages of tobacco products. The author suggests several proactive measures to address conflicts of interest.


Smoking out the Elephant in the Room

A law making it mandatory for health warnings to cover 85 per cent of the total display area on packages of tobacco products was put on hold in March, five days before it was to take effect. In this article, Aparna Ravi calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry by taking proactive measures to address conflicts of interest.

On March 26, 2015, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a notification amending the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 (the “Packaging Rules”) that were due to come into force five days later. The operative portion of the amendment was a single sentence – “They [the rules] shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint”. 1 With this, the new Packaging Rules, which required health warnings to cover 85 per cent of the total display area and were due to come into effect on April 1, 2015, were placed indefinitely in abeyance. This article analyses the principles behind tobacco packaging and labeling regulations, outlines the events that resulted in the unusual practice of holding up the effective date of a legislation that had already been passed, and calls for the implementation of internationally accepted guidelines to protect public health policies from being influenced by the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

(Written by Aparna Ravi)

Cite:

'Smoking out the Elephant in the Room' (23 Apr 2015) <https://www.thehinducentre.com/the-arena/current-issues/article7223619.ece> accessed on 19 Sep 2019