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Larger pictorial warnings

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


Larger pictorial warnings


What to study?

For Prelims: Statutory backing to pictorial warnings.

For Mains: Need for larger pictorial warning, it’s impact and significance.


Context: A new study has shown that large health warnings on tobacco packets with plain packaging can be highly effective in conveying ill effects of tobacco to people.


Key findings:

  1. Such warnings would be more impactful through increased visibility of the warning thus help prevent initiation and motivate cessation.
  2. Packs with 85% graphical warnings were perceived to be more effective in increasing noticeability of the warnings and conveying the intended health message.
  3. These warnings are also effective in preventing non-users from initiating tobacco use, and motivating users to quit.



In October 2014, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had first proposed that 85% of a cigarette packet’s surface area on both the sides should carry health warnings, up from 40% on one side of the packet. It was opposed by the tobacco industry and put on hold after the parliamentary panel said it needed to analyse the impact on the industry.


Why stricter laws in this regard are necessary?

  1. Nearly one million tobacco-related deaths take place in India every year, and in 2011, the total health expenditure burden from all diseases due to tobacco use amounted to more than Rs.1,00,000 crore, which is 12% more than the combined State and Central government expenditure on health in 2011-12.
  2. The revenue earned through tobacco excise duty during the same period was a paltry 17% of the health burden of tobacco.
  3. Also, 12% of children in India in the 13-15 age group use tobacco. Similarly, in the case of adults in India, the percentage is 35%.


Why larger pictorial warnings are necessary?

Besides being unaware of all the risks associated with tobacco use, a vast majority of consumers in India of bidi and chewing tobacco are poor and less exposed to awareness campaigns.

Hence, larger images on both sides of the packet are the most effective and powerful way to communicate health risks to this population. They also provoke a greater emotional response, decrease tobacco consumption and increase motivation to quit.


Sources: the Hindu.