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Parliamentary panel defers decision on tobacco products like cigatette, bidis' pictorial warning

Committee has deferred decision on the grounds that there is no conclusive proof that products like bidis, tendu leaves and cigarettes cause cancer.

Updated: Apr 01, 2015, 05.14 AM IST
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Committee has deferred decision on the grounds that there is no conclusive proof that products like bidis, tendu leaves and cigarettes cause cancer. 
Committee has deferred decision on the grounds that there is no conclusive proof that products like bidis, tendu leaves and cigarettes cause cancer. 
NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary Committee has deferred a decision asking tobacco companies to put pictorial health warnings covering 85% of cigarette packets on the grounds that there is no conclusive proof that products like bidis, tendu leaves and cigarettes cause cancer.

The Lok Sabha Commiittee on Subordinate Legislation, headed by Ahmednagar MP Dilip Kumar Gandhi (BJP), came to the conclusion that a "detailed study" should be conducted in India to know the impact of tobacco products on consumers in the country before going ahead with the proposal of imposing these pictorial warnings, which were suggested keeping in mind the low literacy levels in the country.

Asked about the reason behind the decision, Gandhi told ET, "After serious and detailed discussions, the committee came to the unanimous conclusion that a thorough survey should be conducted before a decision is taken in this regard. No survey has been done in the country of 125 crore people that shows tobacco harms our body and causes cancer."

He further said tobacco products like bidi, which he claimed has very less tobacco, were made only in India and hence its impact on the health of consumers needs to be studied. Asked if the parliamentary panel was under any pressure from tobacco lobbies, Gandhi replied in the negative. "What about those (lobbies) who were suggesting that 85% of the cigarette packet should have the pictorial warning?" he countered.

The committee, comprising of 15 members including the chairperson, submitted its report to the Lok Sabha on the issue on March 19, Gandhi said. There have been murmurs that some of the members of this committee have links with the tobacco industry.

The initial plan was to implement this rule from April 1 onwards but this decision has given tobacco companies more time. Gandhi also sought to highlight the concerns of those who depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihood.

"More than four crore people survive on the bidi and tendu leaves trade. How much tobacco does bidi have? Is it bad for a person?" he asked. The Modi government has allegedly gone slow on the issue of stopping sale of loose cigarettes, checking sale of cigarettes to those below 25 years and other suggestions.

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