Centre’s green light to test nicotine level in cigarettes

Mumbai: Soon three laboratories in the state will test the level of nicotine present in cigarettes. The move comes after the All Food and Drugs Licence Holders Foundation (AFDLHF) wrote to the Union Health and Family Welfare ministry, requesting it to mandate the declaration of tar and nicotine content on their packets by cigarette manufacturers.

“In a recent circular, the Union ministry granted the permission to three laboratories across the country, including one in Mumbai - National Tobacco Testing Lab for testing nicotine and tar content in cigarettes,” said Abhay Pandey, the AFDLHF president.

Pandey said the state has witnessed a rising number of cancer cases in recent past and customers do not have an idea about how much nicotine and tar they consume while smoking a cigarette.

“Once the manufacturing company start displaying the amount of nicotine present in cigarettes, it will discourage smokers from taking up smoking. Now, when we have the laboratories to test it, the declaration should be made compulsory,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, of which, 70 are carcinogenic or cancer-causing agents. The country has more than 50 crore tobacco users.

Of them, more than 15 lakh die from its ill-effects every year. A majority of them use smokeless products like gutkha, zarda and khaini, whereas 12 per cent smoke and nearly 7 per cent use both, according to the government data.

More than 45 per cent of the Indian population uses tobacco daily with or without knowing its ill-effects.

In a letter on September 7, it is stated that Section 7(5) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA) mandates the labelling of nicotine and tar content on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“The legislation was enacted in 2003. The section was not notified in absence of adequate testing facilities for tobacco products. The labs will keep a check on nicotine, ammonia and carbon monoxide for which the WHO’s TobLabNet has already established the Standard Operating Precedures (SOPs),” said Pandey.

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