SAVING LIVES:Kauvery Hospital conducting an awareness programme to mark the ‘World No Tobacco Day,’ which is observed on May 31.
The Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPH) has begun seizure of tobacco products that do not adhere to the new packaging rules. So far, according to P. Vadivelan, Additional Director, DPH, Rs. 27.76 lakh worth of products have been seized in the city, in an operation carried out along with police and the Food Safety Department.
Under the new rules, which came in to effect on April 1, all tobacco products must carry a health warning covering 85 per cent of their packaging. “Necessary action will be taken on the seized products as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003. Even if the products are manufactured before April 1, they should only be sold with a sticker on them that adheres to the new rules,” said Dr. Vadivelan. The DPH is also instructing the health, food safety and various other department officials across the State to begin seizing products that violate the rules. On May 31, which is World No Tobacco Day, the DPH is conducting an awareness meeting, which will include traders’ associations in order to make all stakeholders aware and sensitise them on the process, said Prasanna Kannan, State consultant, Tobacco Control Cell, DPH.
However, activists pointed out that more needs to be done. “The government must seize products from manufacturing, storage and distribution centres before they reach the outlets,” said S. Cyril Alexander, State convenor, Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control.
E. Vidhuabala, head, Resource Centre for Tobacco Control, Cancer Institute, Adyar, agrees. “Up until today, small shops throughout the State are continuing to sell products without the new pictorial warnings,” she said.
In the run up to World No Tobacco Day, several organisations are planning awareness campaigns. The theme this year is ‘Get Ready for Plain Packaging.’ On Friday, Kauvery Hospital conducted an awareness programme at Elliot’s Beach which involved lung capacity screening tests for members of the public.