- Canadian cancer society recently released the sixth edition of Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report in Geneva at WHO framework convention on tobacco control conference.
About the report
- It documents global progress on plain packaging.
- It has ranked 206 countries and territories on the size of their health warnings on cigarette packages, and lists countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings.
- It also lists those countries that have finalised requirements for picture warnings.
- Regional breakdowns are also provided.
- The recent report is the sixth edition in the series.
Highlights of the report
- There has been a tremendous growth in the worldwide trend for larger picture health warnings with many more countries in the process of developing such requirements.
- The report found that 118 countries and territories have now made picture health warnings on cigarette packages mandatory, up from 100 in 2016, representing a global public health achievement.
- In total, 107 countries in the world have made pictorial warnings larger than at least 50 per cent mandatory.
- Canada was the first to insist on picture health warnings in 2001.
- Plain packaging has been adopted in nine countries and is under consideration in at least 16 other jurisdictions.
- Timor Leste has the largest warning with 92.5 per cent on front and back.
- Nepal and Vanuatu bag second place with 90 per cent.
- New Zealand is at fourth with 87.5 per cent.
- India, Hong Kong and Thailand hold fifth place jointly with 85 per cent cigarette warnings.
- Australia holds the eighth place with 82.5 per cent pictorial warning followed by Srilanka and Uruguay with 80 per cent warning on the entire pack.
Efforts by India
- The current pictorial warnings on both sides of all packets of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products in India came into effect in April 2016 on the direction of the Rajasthan High Court and, subsequently, the Supreme Court of India.
- The Union Health Ministry’s through its notification mandated 85% pictorial health warnings for display on both sides of the packet of cigarettes, bidis and chewing tobacco with effect from September 1, 2018.
- Government of India for the first time introduced Quit-Line number to be printed on all tobacco products.
Significance of tobacco products packaging reforms
- Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products are the most cost-effective tool for educating people on the health risks of tobacco use.
- The pack warning will help to warn people, especially the illiterate and children, about the harms of tobacco consumption.
- The Quit-Line number will help those who want to quit.
- Plain packaging also curbs the industry’s use of the package as a promotional vehicle, and it reduces the appeal of tobacco products, increase the effectiveness of package warnings, curb package deception, and decrease tobacco use.
- Plain packaging is recommended for consideration by international guidelines under the FCTC.
- In a country like India, where people use several languages and dialects, the pictorial warning transcends the language and in many cases also the illiteracy barrier.
- The 85% pictorial warnings on all cigarettes, bidis and chewing tobacco packages manufactured and sold in India have resulted in 92% of adults (surveyed under GATS 2016-2017) believing that smoking caused serious illness and 96% saying use of smokeless tobacco causes serious illness.
Significance of the report for India
- It reflects that the country is making tremendous progress towards creating public awareness on the health hazards of tobacco abuse.
- India, meanwhile, is the only SAARC country to have a Quit-Line number on tobacco products and the fourth in Asia after Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
- India has demonstrated global leadership by implementing the quit-line number on all tobacco packages.
- India could serve as a very positive model for other countries, thus benefiting public health worldwide.
- It will also help India to achieve Sustainable development goal 3 i.e. ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
About Canadian Cancer Society
- The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based charitable organization of volunteerswhose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of those who have the disease.
- The Canadian Cancer Society is Canada’s largest national cancer charity and the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada.
- It was founded in 1938.
- It is a Non-profit organizations based in Canada.
- Purpose of the organization is cancer prevention, information, support, advocacy and research.
- Its headquarters is located at Toronto, Ontario, Canada.