This is with reference to news reports that tobacco farmers and other tradesmen are protesting and demanding roll back of rule mandating 85% for pictorial warning on tobacco products. Whether smokers give up tobacco use, just by looking at the gory pictures and messages depicted in 85% of space on packages, or not, is a moot question. A habituated smoker will not bother about any photo or message since he will be only interested in lighting a cigarette or bidi and inhale the deadly smoke. Whether he gets cancer or asthama or other non-communicable disease directly attributable to use of tobacco products, is another moot question. The smoker and his family will start bothering only after cancer or other disease befalls on the person and expenditure on medical treatment becomes imminent. So, both life and money go up in smoke (example: chain smoker – two packs per day – Rs 260 X 31 days X 12 months X 20 years = Rs 19,34,400 plus medical expenses). When the Supreme Court has ruled that its order is for the good of the community, let it be implemented keeping in mind the above observations. But at the same time implementation of this rule will catapult India to No 1 slot in implementing UN/WHO sponsored international FCTC protocol for containing tobacco pandemic by the year 2020. The game plan of tobacco industry is clear – they may have shut their manufacturing units but have done so only after ensuring sufficient stocks at retail level. Except for a few thousands of people who may be entirely dependent upon marketing tobacco products, nobody else will bother about such strikes. Even if there is a percentage reduction in the number of smokers, who, by looking at the gory pictures and messages decide to give up smoking, then it will be a win-win situation for their own well being and saving of money.
Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, Mysuru