SC refuses stay, more graphic tobacco warnings on pack soon

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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to put on hold Centre’s new notification that stipulates rotation of images of cancer patients on the packets of tobacco products while observing that a large number of persons were suffering from oral cancer.

The notification to be brought into effect from September 1, 2018, also requires the packets to carry a “Quit Today Call” number, an online assistance for those who want to quit tobacco products.

A bench led by Chief Justice refused to entertain an application filed by tobacco companies who cried foul over the amended notification, accusing the government of violating the top court’s order.

The bench said, “The government has only changed the photograph to be displayed on tobacco product packets. They want the pictorial message to be such that it would inform consumers about the evil effects of the product.” Rohatgi said the SC must take into account that people had a right to carry on a business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. “If it is so bad, why not ban tobacco products altogether? Why not ban industries producing alcohol and even sugar, which is responsible for diabetes,” he said.

The bench said the petitioner wanted consumers to take informed choices when buying tobacco products as “incidences of oral cancer are increasing”. Rohatgi said, “Chocolates should also be banned and there should be pictorial warning that consuming five chocolates a day could cause diabetes.” The SC said that there was no link between sugar and diabetes

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