ITC shuts down its cigarette factories until clarity emerges on health warning

| Saturday, April 2, 2016 - 23:15
First Published |
Cigarette smoking

The company is at present not in readiness to print the health warnings as now once again notified | Photo: IANS

Kolkata: Cigarette maker ITC on Saturday said it has shut down its cigarette factories until "clarity emerges" on the rules on health warning".

"ITC has been compelled to shut its cigarette factories with effect from April 1, 2016 until clarity emerges in the current uncertain state of the rules on health warning," the company said in a BSE filing.

Until now, cigarette packs carries a warning covering 40 percent of the front of the pack. A parliamentary committee, in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha on March 15, recommended that the new health warnings be modified to occupy 50 percent of the front and the back panels of the cigarette package.

However, according to a government notification, the pictorial warning should cover 85 percent of the front and the back panels of the cigarette packs effective from this month.

(Also Read: Cigarette manufacturers shut production after 85 percent pictorial warnings)

The company said: "Parliamentary committee was actively engaged in hearing and considering the representations of various interested parties, but MoHF (ministry of health and family welfare), contrary to its earlier decision to await the Committee's findings, on September 28, 2015 notified that the new warnings would come into effect on April 1, 2016."

According to the filing, the industry was led to believe that the government would re-notify new health warnings after considering the committee's recommendations.

The company said the implementation of any change in the health warnings on the cigarette packages required elaborate process for the manufacturers, entailing months of preparation involving substantial cost and effort.

"In this situation, the company, as any prudent person would, did not commit to wasting substantial resources in creating the large number of cylinders and other tools necessary for a change-over of the warnings," it said.

As a result, the company is at present not in readiness to print the health warnings as now once again notified, the cigarette maker said.

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Cigarette Warning

Ambiguity is Bad ! Where ? * Health Ministry wants warning images on cigarette packs to cover 85% of the surface , against earlier rule of 40% * A Parliamentary Committee had recommended 50 % Reaction : * From friday ( 01 April 2016 ) , all cigarette factories have shut down in protest , According to Tobacco Institute of India , this will cause, # Daily revenue loss of Rs 350 Crores # Threatening livelihood of 45.7 million people dependent on the Industry # Increase in trade in illegal cigarettes ( which already causes an annual revenue loss of Rs 9,000 cr to the exchequer ) What should Government do ? Negotiate with the Industry and reach Agreement , using my suggestion as under : ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Source : My Blog dt 18 Aug 2013 Going Up in Smoke ? Yesterday , Times of India reported : India's tobacco industry supports 38 million people ( 380 lakhs ) Every year , some 6 million ( 60 lakh ) people die in India thru use of tobacco ( mostly cigarettes ) Of these , some 6 lakh die by inhaling smoke of other cigarette smokers So what can we do to save these 60 lakh ? Immediately close down entire tobacco industry ? And jeopardize the lives of 380 lakh ? Obviously , we cannot adopt a mutually exclusive solution ! We must find a solution that , not only saves those 60 lakh but also continue to provide livelihood to 380 lakhs That cannot be done in one - or even five - years , but it is entirely possible to solve this problem over , 20 years , as follows : * Thru appropriate legislation , phase out tobacco industry by 2033 * Immediately stop expansion of existing units * Do not allow new units to come up * Place a recruitment freeze in tobacco industry - no fresh hiring at any level * No replacement for retiring employees , after 2018 * Provide incentives to industry to redeploy capital / manpower in alternate industries - especially those industries with large scope for creation of new jobs * Give generous tax-breaks to industry to remain profitable , even as they wind-up operations * Provide incentives to put up new-industry projects in less industrialized regions * Provide incentives for re-training existing workers in new skills in demand by others * Subsidize Voluntary Retirement Schemes of industry This is just a partial list . I am sure , if there is political will , experts will come up with many more viable suggestions Hint : If Shri Piyush Goyal can plan on banning all petrol / diesel driven vehicles on roads from 2030 , then banning cigarettes from 2036 , ought to be a " Child's Play " ! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- / blogs 03 April 2016

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