The Union Health Ministry on Monday notified new sets of enhanced health warnings to be printed on packets of all tobacco products. Tobacco products manufactured or imported or packaged on or after September 1 this year will have to display the first set of images while the second set of images will have to be displayed after September 1 next year, the ministry said in a statement.

“Any person engaged directly or indirectly in the manufacture, production, supply, import or distribution of cigarettes or any tobacco products shall ensure that all tobacco product packages shall have the specified health warnings exactly as prescribed,” it said, citing the amended Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules.

“Violation of the above mentioned provision is a punishable offence with imprisonment or fine as prescribed in Section 20 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003,” it said.

The definition of “package” has been amended to be in conformity with the Act and the Rules made thereunder.

According to experts, around 12 lakh deaths occur every year in India due to tobacco usage. The use of tobacco is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of all cancers in India and 90 per cent of mouth cancers, an expert said.

As per the rules laid down under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, during the rotation period of 24 months, two images of specified health warnings as notified in the Schedule shall be displayed on all tobacco product packages and each of the images shall appear consecutively on the package with an interregnum period of 12 months, a notification issued earlier read.