Diversified group ITC recently announced “progressive resumption” of production at its cigarette factories, which was suspended over the large pictorial warning issue. On May 4, 2016 the Supreme Court had directed tobacco companies to implement the rule mandating larger pictorial warnings and refused the manufacturers’ pleas to stay the implementation of new cigarette packaging rules introduced from April 1.
The apex court said the tobacco companies have to follow the rules until Karnataka High Court, where all the petitions from various high courts are being transferred, pronounced its final order. “In the meantime, the company has had to shut its cigarette factories from May 4, until the company is in a position to comply with the interim requirements pending hearing in [the court],” ITC had said in a BSE filing on May 5.
The Kolkata-headquartered firm had suspended manufacturing at all its five factories saying there was a lack of clarity in policy regarding printing of larger pictorial warnings on the packets. All other cigarette manufacturers had taken similar decisions.
A notification by the health ministry on September 24, 2015, for implementation of the cigarettes and other tobacco products (packaging and labeling) amendment rules, 2014, had come into force on April 1, 2016. It prescribed larger pictorial warnings, covering 85% of packets on tobacco products. ITC manufactures a range of brands, including India Kings, Classic, Gold Flake, Navy Cut, Capstan, Bristol, Flake, and Silk Cut, which are manufactured at plants in Bengaluru, Munger, Saharanpur, Kolkata, and Pune.