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Bhubaneswar, Nov 20 (IANS) A Biju Janata Dal MP plans to introduce a private members' bill in parliament seeking Australia−like strict tobacco control measures in India.
Baijayant 'Jay' Panda's bill seeks plain packaging of tobacco products in India and is likely to be introduced in parliament on the second day of the winter session Nov 23.
The bill is similar to a legislation enacted in Australia recently.
"I believe that the Australian legislation is a step in the right direction and sets an example for government across the world," Panda, an MP from Odisha's Kendrapara constituency, said in a letter to union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad urging his intervention in the policy initiative.
The bill seeks to remove extraneous colours, embossing and misleading elements on tobacco packs, thus eliminating the "badge value" of all forms of tobacco product packaging.
Brand and product names can be used in a standardised, prescribed style, font and colour, it says.
"Tobacco has already claimed several millions of lives in India and across the world. These deaths are an outcome of preventable causes and it is high time that policymakers take some concerted action to check the menace," Panda said in his Nov 16 letter to Azad a copy of which is with IANS.
Panda has also written to chairman of the standing committee on industry and chairman of the standing committee on health and family welfare for support.
Plain packaging is important to accentuate the effectiveness of pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packages, as misleading descriptors and attractive packaging diverts attention of consumers, said Monika Arora, director, tobacco control, Public Health Foundation of India.
"We are hopeful that this policy intervention will protect youth from experimenting with tobacco products," she told IANS.
"We hope the bill receives support from all policymakers and takes the shape of a law."