New Report Urges Plain Cigarette Packages In India

The Australia India Institute Taskforce on Tobacco Control has released a report urging the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in India.

AsianScientist (Aug. 9, 2012) – The Australia India Institute, based at the University of Melbourne has released a report urging the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in India, where up to 35 percent of adults use tobacco products.

Australia’s Parliament passed similar legislation on November 21, 2011, stating that all tobacco products sold in Australia will have to be in the same standard dark brown packaging with matte finish beginning on December 1, 2012.

The new report by the Taskforce on Tobacco Control outlines a number of short-term, intermediate and long-term strategies that are aligned with current Indian policy, and aimed at reducing smoking rates and creating a ‘smoke-free’ India.

Professor Amitabh Mattoo, Director of the Australia India Institute, said that the response by the Indian Government to the report was encouraging.

“Early market research undertaken by the Taskforce indicates that many stakeholders believe plain packaging of tobacco products would reduce tobacco use and could be implemented in India. Currently, we know that up to 35 percent of Indian adults use tobacco and about one million Indians are estimated to die each year from smoking alone,” he said.

“Added to this, we are aware of the alarmingly high use of tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco in children and young adults. The direct connection with an increase in oral cancers is also evident,” he said.

Measures such as plain packaging of cigarettes, greater tobacco taxes, and package warnings could make marked differences especially to young people taking up the habit, said co-author Professor Rob Moodie at the University of Melbourne.

“Conditions such as cancer, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, account for 25 percent of all public spending on health in India. Tobacco products in India are very affordable and a life-long habit diverts already-scare resources away from food, education and health. The correlation is clear; a tobacco habit exacerbates low household income and poverty,” Moodie said.

Like India, other developing countries such as Indonesia and China have also been affected by the growing tobacco epidemic.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that in 2010, an estimated 301 million individuals in China were current smokers, representing approximately 28.1 percent of adults.

To reverse these trends, China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration introduced in April 2012 a wave of changes to its tobacco industry, including larger warning labels on cigarette packaging that are written in Mandarin.


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