On the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, the Voluntary Health Association of Assam and State Tobacco Control Cell has urged the new Assam government to strictly enforce the new 85 per cent pictorial warning rules on tobacco products.
The two organisations, actively supporting the implementation of the 85 per cent Pictorial Health Warning Rules by tobacco companies in the country, also wanted the government to prohibit sale of loose cigarettes and tobacco products.
Addressing a joint press meet here, National Tobacco Control Programme Assam Nodal Officer Dr Arundhati Deka said the Central government has come up with effective packaging norms for tobacco packets with effect from April one last.
This new rule has minimised the use of colourful logos and branding on tobacco packaging which serves as a key strategy used by the tobacco industry to make their products more appealing to the current and potential customers, including youth, Deka said.
The Assam Health department had issued an order on May 11 last year to the Drug Controller of Assam and designated Food Safety Officers of all districts to enforce the 85 per cent pictorial warning under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, Dr Deka said.
Simultaneously, many tobacco products have been sent to the Regional Tobacco Testing Laboratory attached to the Regional Drug Testing Laboratory here for testing and compliance of COTPA provisions, she added.
The recent landmark move to implement 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on tobacco packets is a very strong and positive step taken by the Central Government and onus is now on the state government to strictly enforce it at the earliest, VHAA Executive Secretary Ruchira Neog said.
This year WHO is calling on countries around the world to implement plain packaging of tobacco products without brand names to help end tobacco epidemic, she said, adding, plain packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco consumption and increases the ability to notice health warnings on tobacco packets.