tobacco products beedis
The government has directed to seize all the cigarette and tobacco packaging which doesnt display 85 percent health warnings size.. In Picture: Kishan Lal, an 80-year-old who runs a tea stall, smokes a "bidi" (an Indian leaf cigarette) by the roadside in Noida on the outskirts of New DelhiReuters

A parliamentary panel constituted to look into tobacco control in the country has favoured the tobacco companies, stating the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products should be reduced. The panel has termed the health ministry's decision of adding large pictorial warnings on tobacco products as "too harsh."

The panel headed by BJP MP Dilip Gandhi has supported tobacco companies' bid to reduce the size of the pictorial warnings to 50 percent from the proposed 85 percent, the Times of India reported.

The Union health ministry, which reportedly pledged to make anti-smoking laws in the country tougher, however, recommended that the larger pictorial warnings should be placed on both sides of the tobacco product packets from April 1.

Ahead of the April 1 deadline, the panel suggested the pictorial warnings size on cigarette and beedi packets should be 50 percent instead of the proposed 85 percent. The current size of the pictorial warnings on tobacco products is 40 percent.

It said the proposed graphic warnings have the potential to severely affect Indian farmers and tobacco companies.

"The Committee is of the considered view that in order to have affair approach, the warning on cigarette packets should be 50 percent on both sides of the principal display area instead of 85 percent of the area, as it will be too harsh and will result in the import of illicit cigarettes in the country," the report suggested, according to TOI.

The panel was at loggerheads with the ministry last year when panel Chairman Gandhi wrote to health minister JP Nadda urging him to put his recommendations regarding pictorial warnings on hold, the IBN Live reported.