India steps up fight against Big Tobacco over health warnings

NEW DELHI India’s health ministry on Tuesday ordered government agencies to enforce a new rule for bigger health warnings on tobacco packets, stepping up a fight against the $10 billion cigarette industry that has shut down its factories in protest.

The government wants manufacturers to cover 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface in health warnings, up from 20 percent now.

But ITC Ltd, part-owned by British American Tobacco, and Godfrey Phillips, partner of U.S.-based Philip Morris International, have opposed the measure, saying a parliament panel had suggested the health warning to be half the cigarette pack’s size.

K.C. Samria, a joint secretary in the health ministry, on Monday sought support of several other ministries, including foreign affairs and revenue department, to ensure strict implementation of the new rules, letters seen by Reuters showed.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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