SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed the state government and government of India to file their reply to a Public Interest Litigation, seeking ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products without 85% pictorial and textual warning.
While issuing notice to GoI through the secretary ministry of health and family welfare and divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the counsel representing them to seek instructions within two weeks.
The PIL, filed by Dr Syed Khurshid Ahmad of Nawab Bazar Srinagar, has been directed to be listed on May 24.
Besides prohibition on its sale, the petitioner also seeks direction to officials to confiscate all cigarettes and other tobacco products having pictorial and textual warning of less than 85%.
The petitioner actually strict compliance to package and warning norms provided by cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) (Amendment) Rules, 2014.
“As per rules, cigarettes and other tobacco products packaging should contain 60% pictorial health warning and 25% textual health warning, a total of 85% principal space on packaging of Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products should be covered with warnings,” Ahmad said, adding that hitherto the administration have failed to implement the Rules as the cigarettes and other tobacco products are still being sold without following the prescribed 85% warning norms.
He said tobacco is the leading cause of death globally and according to the World Health Organization, the direct use of tobacco kills an estimated 5.4 million people worldwide in a year from lung cancer, heart diseases, tuberculosis and other illnesses.
He said an estimated additional 600,000 people a year die from second hand smoke. Tobacco use is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world. According to a report published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, he said, the total economic costs (direct and indirect) attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 for persons aged between 35 and 69 amounted to Rs. 1,04,500 crores.
Conservative estimates of tobacco related deaths in India are about 1 million a year and of the dead, about 70% (90,000 women and 580,000 men) will be lost during the productive periods of their lives—between the ages of 30 and 69 years, he said. It has been estimated by the Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project India that smoking will lead to 1.5 million deaths in 2020.
“There is high prevalence of tobacco use amongst children and youth. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India (GATS -2010) conducted in the age group 15 years and above, over 35% (almost 28 crores) of the adult population consumes tobacco in some form or the other and majority of the tobacco users are illiterate and semi-literate,” he said.