India has stepped up efforts to curb nearly 1m tobacco-related deaths a year by issuing new rules to embolden the health warnings on tobacco packets and make the country one of the world’s strictest in terms of tobacco labelling.
But while regulators try to crack down on branded cigarettes and similar products, there is still a vast unregulated market for tobacco in India. And it’s far from clear that slapping warnings on cigarette packs will have much impact on health.
For one thing, many more Indians smoke traditional bidis than branded cigarettes. In addition, a lot of people get their nicotine fix from chewing tobacco and other products often produced in the informal sector.