Government on Saturday said it will take a “measured and responsible” decision on the issue of increasing the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products in the backdrop of a controversy generated by BJP members of a parliamentary panel suggesting “nil” effects of smoking.
Union minister Arun Jaitley also made it clear that the decision of the government in the matter will not be based on the opinions of individuals.
His comments came amid reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed removal of the members with “conflicting interests” from the Committee of Subordinate Legislations examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003.
However, Jaitley did not directly comment on the issue of removal of these members and said, “There is a system in the Parliament and it has also been written in the rules of procedures.”
“There is one opinion that it should be changed. This is in the hands of the Parliament, in the hands of the chair. It is not the issue concerning the government,” he said.
BJP MPs Dilip Gandhi, Shyam Charan Gupta, Ram Prasad Sarmah have claimed there is no clear proof yet linking cigarette puffing and cancer.
While Gandhi, who is the head of the parliamentary panel, had said that there was no Indian study to show the link between tobacco usage and cancer, Gupta said he could produce a lot of people who are chain smokers of beedi and have had no disease till date.
Asserting that a “multi-pronged” approach to discourage tobacco use was needed, Jaitley said, “Individuals can give individual opinions, but government takes measured and responsible decisions.
“Therefore in the last two months and in my two budgets, I have certainly reflected what the collective thinking of the government is. The government will always take a measured decision as far as this issue is concerned.”
He was addressing reporters in Bengaluru where his party is holding its national executive meeting.