Tobacco products will now come with graphic warnings…really graphic!


If you smoke or consume tobacco in any form, be ready to get shocked every time you open a new cigarette packet or tobacco pouch – India’s Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has, in a notification, made it mandatory to use graphic warnings on all tobacco products packages. According to press release, these warning will come to effect from 1st December 2011.

History of Tobacco warnings

Over past decade, health ministry has been bringing about changes to ensure that general public are aware of how tobacco severely affects human health. Just to give you an example – More than a decade back, cigarette packets came with  sober warnings (that too in small letterings) like – “Smoking is injurious to your health”, something like the one shown below


In last few years, this gave way to more bold and direct warnings, which got mentioned in large letters – “Smoking Kills”

smoking kills

These are the kind of warnings that come on all cigarette packers as well all smokeless tobacco pouches. These too be honest are quite strong – But, it looks like introduction of even such strong warnings also have not deterred tobacco users.

Highlights of existing Tobacco users in India

As per the recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India Report, here are some of the highlights of tobacco users in India.

  • Current tobacco use in any form: 34.6% of adults; 47.9% of males and 20.3% of females
  • Current tobacco smokers: 14.0% of adults: 24.3% of males and 2.9% of females
  • Current cigarette smokers: 5.7% of adults: 10.3% of males and 0.8% of females.
  • Current bidi smokers: 9.2% of adults: 16.0% of males and 1.9% of females.
  • Current users of smokeless tobacco: 25.9% of adults: 32.9% of males and 18.4% of females.

These are startling figures – One Indian in every 3 either smokes or consumes tobacco in some or the other form !

New (Very) Graphic Warnings on Tobacco Packets

The new notification which was released by Health Ministry on 27th May, provides some very graphic warnings, and I am sure these will have positive effects on the tobacco users:

Note: Below image is the most sober image of all, the other images are so graphic, that I decided against publishing them – If you are keen to see them, you can click on the link given below


Extremely Graphic Warnings which will come to effect in Dec. 2011

Now, what I want to ask readers is – Will these warnings have the desired effect and dissuade tobacco users from using them? And, also it will be interesting to see how, tobacco companies will react to this particular notification !

  1. Aditya says

    Who cares for these warnings? I don’t think people who consume tobacco products least care for them. They always have an excuse ready for you. A guy I met said that tobacco gives relief from bleeding gums. There was another guy who said that he spits the tobacco in exactly 3 minutes. According to his research tobacco has a bad impact only after 3 minutes. Therefore, piney aur khaney walon ko kya warning dikha rahe ho; they are more interested in what’s inside than what’s on the packet.

  2. Pradeep says

    For Sure these graphics creates some impact. based on my experience, when i first saw the current/existing graphics, it was kind of scary. Not that i did not knew this, but a text warning and that lungs makes some difference. It made me think for a while.. but then i still smoke:)

  3. rabi gupta says

    I believe that children should be brought up in a way that they think smoking/drinking is equivalent to bad habits like stealing/taking drugs. Also it has a lot to do with parents, whether they smoke or not. My father never did and hence it was easy for him to make an impression that smoking/drinking is not something we should take up after we grow up. So if anyone who smokes takes a pledge that they will stop it after they have kids and if they are able to impart right ethics then this prob can be solvd specially in middle/upper and upper middle class.
    If you don’t take drugs probably you shouldn’t take up smoking too- I hope I made my point here :)

  4. Ashok Shripad Luktuke says

    The warnings make no difference to the addicts

  5. Ashok Shripad Luktuke says

    The warnings make no difference to the addicts

  6. Ashok Shripad Luktuke says

    The warnings make no difference to the addicts

  7. Alaknanda Muzumdar says

    Tobacco products will now come with graphic warnings…really graphic!“Smoking Kills”.

    “Smoking is injurious to your health”.

  8. Alaknanda Muzumdar says

    Tobacco products will now come with graphic warnings…really graphic!“Smoking Kills”.

    “Smoking is injurious to your health”.

    1. Ashok Shripad Luktuke says

      The warnings make no difference to the addicts

  9. Altaf Rahman says

    @ Rabi Gupta,
    I just read the article and was about to close the window when I saw your comment and this made me think and write the following :
    Well its a good question. As a smoker, I ask myself many times “why am I smoking?’ To be fair, I have no answer.
    Many of my good wishers tried to convince me how much loss it is causing to me. Well I agree with all of them, sincerely. But in the tension, I go out and start a smoke.
    When I started smoking at the age of 16, it was fun. We were just out of school and tasted freedom in college and smoking made us beleive that we are really free and really grown up. What started as fun has become a habit. A habit!! Thats the answer to the question. I smoke because it has become a habit.

    I fully agree when people tell me that in the long run, I will get cancer.

    I fully agree when people give me simple math that at a rate of 20 cigerettes a day costing 100 rupees, I am spending about 30 to 40 tousand a year on cigerettes which can be better used on my family.

    Please note that I tried to stop. Many of my fortunate friends succeeded too. Some of us have failed to stop. May be my will is not so strong. So I gave up. I gave up on trying.

    If I tell people here “Please do not start smoking because it becomes habit’, they will think I am giving lecture. As a smoker, I have no moral right to request anyone to either stop smoking (to those who smoke) or not to start smoking (for those young ones).

    But going through what I did I request people, specially young ones not to go into smoking. First it will be fun. Slowly it becomes habit BEFORE YOU REALISE.

    You do not only pose a danger to your health, and spend money on that, it causes bad breath which unless you take utmost precautions like brushing your teeth everytime you smoke or keep chewing gum, your friends and family keep a distance from you.

    I brush my teeth thrice a day and more as convenient. I chew gum while in office in order not to cause inconveniance to my collegues (this is an additional expense)

    There are some herbal remedies available but now that I am so tired of trying I thought I will go through with this and see when my doctor announces the bad news.

    Now coming to the efforts of govt to increase the visual effects on packs, it is only cosmetic. In Singapore the same pack of cigerettes costs 12 times that in India. So people smoke sparingly and some stop just becasue of financial reasons. Eitehr you ban cigerettes or allow it. Increasing graphic content on packs will not do anything. Slowly people will get used to the content and keep smoking casually.
    If govt bans cigerettes, my first reaction will be to fight the injustice, people like me will make it a legal issue, ban on freedom etc etc and then try to find smuggled cigerettes and when that too becomes difficult we will stop, but still be angry.

    However I am against some people behaving like they are above others. Airlines have now stopped smoking completely during flight. Why should we be discriminated against non smokers? Imagine a smoker to feel torture for 20 hours if he is flying to US or Canada. What the airline is acheiving? Are they trying to reform smokers? It is none of their business. If they want to protect non smokers, they can have seperate cabins for both. Stopping a smoker for 20 hours and feel they are doing service to mankind is a lousy approach.

    I work in Industrial projects. In construction sites of Oil and gas, it is highly dangerous to play with fire. Even in such places, we have smoking shelters. Just the knowledge that the smoking shelter is ther when I want to smoke relaxes me. If there are no smoking shelters, people will smoke in some unseen corners and eventually cause fires. Even airports have a seperate area for smoking.
    Airlines should learn from Industry.

    Just my two paisa :)

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      I think you have put across every smokers plight who has been smoking for long time – It is an extremely difficult habit to kick – no doubt about it…

      What really surprised me was that “1 in 3 people consume tobacco in one form or the other” – This is just too high a ratio.

      I think if one wants to reduce the percentage of smokers / tobacco users in India, the only probable could be to tax these products heavily… A packet of cigarette is still very cheap in India. In USA it costs about 7-8 USD, while in countries like singapore it is over USD 20 I think…

      That probably is the only way smokers will reduce in India

  10. kamal says

    lollllll….. well it SHOULD be ‘really’ graphic ………. :) !

  11. rabi gupta says

    Why do people smoke??? :P

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