Smoking Current Affairs - 2019

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Rajasthan bans Advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes

The Rajasthan government recently announced its decision to ban production, distribution, advertisement and sale of e-cigarette in the state.

Key Highlights

  • Background: The congress government in state had promised in its election manifesto during assembly elections 2019 that it will take steps to curb use of tobacco among youths.
  • About: The government has banned both online and offline sale, storage, production, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes in Rajasthan. The decision was announced on occasion of the World No Tobacco Day which is observed on 31 May 2019.
  • Committee: The government had constituted a committee to do a detailed study on rising use of e-cigarettes which highlighted that youths are being misled by advertisements of e-cigarettes as a better alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
  • Significance: Researchers have found that initially many youngsters start smoking e-cigarettes and gradually shift to tobacco cigarettes later in life. Thus the ban will be an important step to curb e-cigarette addiction among youths and will prove effective to discourage them from consumption.
  • Criticism: The e-cigarettes ban is a surprise move in a state where sale of tobacco products and cigarettes is allowed. Since smoking tobacco has been found to be more dangerous than e-cigarette this raises questions whether ban is placed to safeguard interests of tobacco lobby. Also, on one hand public smoking of cigarettes is banned in state but no steps have been taken to ban chewing of tobacco.

India ranks 5th in world terms of largest pictorial warning on cigarette packs

India was ranked 5th among 206 countries in Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report 2018 released by Canadian Cancer Society. The ranking of the countries was in terms of largest pictorial warning on cigarette packs. In India, 85% of both sides of cigarette packets are covered with warnings.

Key Facts

In 2018 report, Timor-Leste has the largest warnings on cigarette packages in the world with 92.5% on front and back, followed by Nepal and Vanuatu with 90% and New Zealand at fourth with 87.5%. India secured the fifth rank jointly with Hong Kong and Thailand for 85% warnings.

The report documented global progress on plain packaging and ranked 206 countries and territories based on size of their health warnings on cigarette packages, and lists countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings.

It was the sixth Canadian Cancer Society international report on cigarette package health warnings. Previous reports were published in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. It was released in Geneva at 8th session of Conference of Parties to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

Key Findings of report

The report has found that 118 countries worldwide have made pictorial warnings mandatory, representing global public health achievement and 58% of the world’s population is covered by this regulation. Canada was first country to make picture health warnings mandatory in 2001.

It also found that there is tremendous international momentum for plain packaging of tobacco. There are now 25 countries and territories moving forward with plain packaging, with nine having adopted measure and 16 working on it.

Total of 107 countries pictorial warnings cover at least 50% of the package, both front and back (on average), up from 94 in 2016 and 24 in 2008. 55 countries/jurisdictions have made mandatory for at least 65% (on average) of the package, front and back, be covered with warning.

India’s progress

The current regulation of pictorial warnings in India on both sides of packages of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products came into effect in April 2016 upon direction of Rajasthan High Court and subsequently Supreme Court. India has demonstrated global leadership by implementing quit-line number on all tobacco packages.