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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2762

Landmark victories for global health – major defeat for the tobacco industry

By Manjari Peiris

High courts in India and the European Union today upheld strong measures to reduce tobacco use, including requirements for large, graphic health warnings on tobacco products and in the EU, a ban on flavoured tobacco products, including menthol, and authority for countries to adopt standardized plain packages.

These rulings would provide a powerful boost to worldwide efforts to combat tobacco epidemic, preventing one billion deaths this century. These rulings represent a booming rejection of the scorched-earth strategies of the tobacco industry that put profits before lives.

The Supreme Court of India ordered tobacco industry to comply with a requirement that tobacco packages include graphic health warnings covering 85 percent of the front and back of the packs.

Tobacco industry fiercely fought the requirement, filing multiple lawsuits, lobbying Parliament to weaken the warnings and even shutting down factories attempting to get their way by upsetting the economy of India. Today’s ruling sends a powerful message of support from the highest court of India and the warning requirement will have to be implemented while the lower court follows the Supreme Court order. The final resolution will be given by a lower court.

By rejecting the lawsuit filed by the tobacco industry the European Union Court of Justice upheld new tobacco regulations set to take effect on 20th May. Among other things, the regulations require graphic health warnings covering 65 percent of the front and back of tobacco products; ban flavoured tobacco products, including a phased in prohibition on the use of menthol; and establish regulations for electronic cigarettes, including health warnings and marketing restrictions.

This ruling also provides significant support for countries to go beyond the specific EU regulations and require that cigarettes be sold in plain packaging, free of colourful logos and branding.

The United Kingdom, France and Ireland have passed laws requiring plain packaging and will soon join Australia in implementing this innovative new strategy to accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use. Other countries are considering such laws, and today’s ruling adds impetus to these efforts.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids state that the India and EU rulings should encourage countries to move forward with implementing proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, as required by the international tobacco control treaty, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Governments must stand firm against the tobacco industry’s inevitable efforts to block life-saving progress.

Source of information: Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

- Asian Tribune -

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