health  warnings,
health warnings,Reuters

Even as the Indian government and the Supreme Court have acted tough and ordered immediate implementation of larger health warnings on tobacco product packs, an opinion poll conducted by ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd said that these warnings may have little impact on the perception of people.

The survey said that 72 percent of the participants (in the age group of 22-45 years) felt that the larger health warnings on cigarette and other tobacco product packs have little impact on the smoking habits of people.

The union health ministry had earlier justified its decision of increasing the size of pictorial warnings from 40 to 85 percent on grounds that such warnings would result in many smokers giving up the habit.

The survey also said that 41 percent of the poll respondents were in favour of imposition of stricter public smoking ban, whereas 24 percent believed that increase in sin taxes would make smokers quit the habit, the Times of India reported.

"The survey reveals interesting insights but most significantly it underscores the fact that the fight against smoking is far from over. One of the most alarming findings of the survey was that only 10 percent of the respondents felt the need to buy a health insurance policy as a measure to combat the problem. It thereby emphasizes that as insurers and, as a society, we are yet a long way away from spreading full awareness about the ill-effects of smoking," Sanjay Datta, chief of underwriting, claims & reinsurance at ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd, was quoted by TOI as saying.

The larger health warnings on tobacco product packs are also recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the WHO Global Audit Tobacco Survey, about two in three adults (64.5 percent) in India noticed advertisement or promotion of tobacco products. The survey said three in five current tobacco users in India (61.1 percent) noticed the health warnings on tobacco packaging and one in three tobacco users (31.5 percent) thought of quitting tobacco because of the warning label.