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IMA supports 85% pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packs

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MUMBAI: Over two lakh member doctors of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have strongly urged the union health ministry to withstand all tobacco industry resistance and implement the 85% pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages enforced from April 1, 2016.

Maharashtra FDA is the first government body to have begun a crackdown on distributors selling the products without appropriate warnings. Doctors say large and graphic pack warnings are critical for India because of its low literacy levels. The warnings will effectively communicate the range of diseases caused due to tobacco use, discourage non-users, including youth from starting and encourage current users to stop.

“Other countries may have large text warnings but we need to reach out to those who are unable to read. Therefore, 85% pictorial health warnings are necessary in India,” said Dr SS Agarwal, national president of IMA. “The skyrocketing health costs of tobacco use in India, which stand at 1,04,500 crore rupees, have devastating effects on the lives of people as well as the economy. Those working in or affiliated to the tobacco industry must publicly acknowledge the harsh consequences of tobacco use and their capacities must be built to become community based quit counselors as an alternate employment opportunity,” he said.

He further added that the issue of illicit trade of tobacco products is unrelated to pictorial health warnings and large warnings do not affect such trade activities. “We are against illicit trade of all products, which must be dealt with stringent action by the Government,” he said.

“IMA only has one direct interest: to save lives. Workers engaged in tobacco production have to deal with several debilitating medical conditions like green tobacco sickness in the farms and lung diseases in the bidi factories. These people must transition to other sectors. The government is enforcing measures like the 85% pack warnings to de-normalize tobacco use, so as to protect youth and poor from becoming addicted to tobacco. We fully support this initiative”, Aggarwal added.

Source: TOI-MUM

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Now, FDA heat on imported cigarettes

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MUMBAI: After seizure of Rs 300 crore worth cigarettes across Maharashtra, the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now shifted focus on imported tobacco products that are being sold without the mandatory 85 per cent health warning on both sides of the pack. Even duty-free shops selling tobacco products at the airport are likely to face the heat.

Last Saturday, officials from the drug regulatory body raided a shop in Fort for stocking imported cigarettes that carried minimal or no health warnings. “We have seized stocks worth Rs 12 lakhs from the retailer for selling products which were non-complaint with the health norms. Some of the product packs had absolutely no textual or pictorial warnings,” said Harish Baijal, joint commissioner, FDA.

Baijal said that the owner has been booked under section 7 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Under the act, the seller and distributor of cigarette can face one year imprisonment, a fine of Rs 1000, or both. The centre has made 85% health warnings compulsory from April 1, 2016, despite repeated attempts by the tobacco manufacturers to thwart the decision.

The union health ministry wrote to all state governments asking them to seize the tobacco products before they could hit the market. Maharashtra FDA was the first one in the country to implement the diktat. The health ministry has also written to civil aviation, tourism, revenue, commerce and external affairs departments informing them about the warning and emphasising that all tobacco products that is produced, distributed or supplied in the country should bear the warning.

Cancer physicians from Maharashtra have lauded the government and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for becoming the first state to crack down on tobacco products. A body of doctors under the umbrella of Maharashtra Cancer Warriors has commended chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for upholding the resolve to advance health policies for effective tobacco control. “Mouth cancer is the commonest cancer in men in Maharashtra due to rampant chewing habit. Needless to say that the state loses 2000 crore every year due to tobacco related illnesses,” said Satish Sonawane, co-ordinator, Maharashtra Cancer Warriors.

They doctors believe that the FDA’s crackdown will certainly reduce the burden of cancer in few years from now. “Maharashtra was the first state to ban flavoured chewing tobacco, flavoured supari and e-cigarette. We are happy that the government is also contemplating banning chewing of tobacco in public place and ban on sale of lose cigarettes and bidis,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital
Source: TOI-MUM

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The biggest flea market is back: Shopping, entertainment and fun unlimited

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Source: TOI-MUM

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