FCTC and Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 176 ratifying/accessioned countries. There are currently 19 non-parties to the treaty.

The FCTC, one of the most quickly ratified treaties in United Nations history, is a supranational agreement that seeks “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke” by enacting a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use in all forms worldwide. To this end, the treaty’s provisions include rules that govern the production, sale, distribution, advertisement, and taxation of tobacco. FCTC standards are, however, minimum requirements, and signatories are encouraged to be even more stringent in regulating tobacco than the treaty requires them to be.

Pictorial warning on Tobacco products

India ratified the WHO’s — Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004, under which the Government is committed to implement pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products.

  • Article 11 of the FCTC recommends pictorial health warnings as an effective strategy for reducing tobacco demand. Based on this the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has notified a new set of warnings to be depicted on tobacco product packs.
  • The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) is the nodal agency of the Government of India for advertising by various Ministries and organisations of Government of India including public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies.
  • Tobacco packaging warning messages are health warning messages that appear on the packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products. They have been implemented in an effort to enhance the public’s awareness of the harmful effects of smoking.
  • Cigarette packets sold in India are required to carry pictorial warnings along with the text CIGARETTE SMOKING IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH and SMOKING CAUSES CANCER in both Hindi and English. The sale of tobacco products in the vicinity of educational institutions is prohibited, as is the smoking of cigarettes in public places.
  • Graphic health warnings (GHW) are now mandatory on tobacco products sold in India. The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules 2008 requiring GHW came into force on 31 May 2011. All tobacco products are now required to display the graphic pictures, including pictures of diseased lungs, and health messages covering at least 40% of the pack, and the sellers must put the cigarette packs in such a way that the pictures on pack are clearly visible.
  • World ‘No tobacco’ Day is celebrated on May 31.
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