Cigarette firms to shut down factories over 85% pictorial warning

Major cigarette manufacturers including ITC Ltd, Godfrey Philips India Ltd and VST Industries Ltd have decided to shut all their factories and stop manufacturing with effect from 1 April in the wake of larger pictorial warnings covering 85% of the packaging space coming into force.

The companies, which are members of the Tobacco Institute of India, who account for more than 98% of the country’s domestic sales of duty paid cigarettes in India, claimed the estimated production revenue loss of over Rs.350 crore per day for tobacco product manufacturers.

“Owing to ambiguity on the policy related to revision of Graphic Health Warnings on tobacco product packs, the members are unable to continue manufacturing cigarettes from April 1, 2016,” Tobacco Institute of India (TII) said in a statement.

TII director Syed Mahmood Ahmad said the Indian tobacco industry had written to the ministry of health and family melfare on 15 March, seeking a clarification on the matter. Fearing potential violation of rules by continuing production, TII members have decided to shut their factories, the statement said. “The move will result in an estimated loss of Rs.350 crore per day in production turnover for Indian tobacco industry,” it said. The notification by the health ministry on 24 September 2015 for implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, comes into force from 1 April.

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