BJD MP moves Bill on tobacco packaging

Jay Panda, an MP of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), has submitted a private members' Bill on plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products that is likely to be taken up in the coming winter session of Parliament.

The Bill lays down that the statutory anti-smoking warning should occupy at least 60 per cent of the principal display area of the package in which cigarettes or any other tobacco products are sold/supplied and the name of the company/brand can appear only once and in one line below the specified warning and in a font style and size prescribed by the government.

The package cannot have any embossing, ridges, irregularities of shape or size, removable or folding tabs, inserts or onserts, or any other embellishments. The packet cannot have anything printed or painted on it and neither can it have any other gimmicks like changing colours, scratch cards etc.

The Bill is modelled after the plain packaging legislation recently enacted in Australia and lauded by health activists. Australia is set to move to plain packaging of tobacco products from December 2012.

Australia ranks first in the "Cigarette Package Health warnings: International Status" report released last week while India ranks 123 among 198 countries.

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