Table 1

Timeline of actions surrounding implementation of GHWLs, tobacco industry strategies and outcomes in India

DateActionsArea/jurisdictionPublic health group activityTobacco industry activity (cigarette companies vs bidi companies)Outcome
1975Indian government passes the Cigarettes Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, mandating the use of text warning labels on cigarette packs advertisementsMinistries of Commerce, Health and Family WelfareUnknownUnknownText warning labels implemented in 1975
1980s-1990sPro-tobacco control NGOs foundedThroughout IndiaMultiple NGOs arise to advocate for tobacco controlUnknownEnvironment becomes more favourable for tobacco control legislation
1995Results of Indian Parliamentary Committee studying the 1975 Cigarette Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act conclude that the legislation was ineffective at reducing tobacco use in IndiaParliamentUnknownUnknownStage is set for further tobacco control legislation
1995Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation recommends use of strongly worded rotating warning label text with pictures and symbolsLok Sabha (lower house of the parliament)UnknownTobacco industry lobbies for voluntary regulation, then against use of strongly worded rotating text and imagesStrongly worded labels with pictures are not implemented
2001Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development recommends use of skull and crossbones on tobacco packagesRajya Sabha, (upper house of the parliament)UnknownTobacco industry lobbies against implementation of skull and crossbonesSkull and cross bones image dropped in 2007
1999–2003COTPA processNationalPublic health groups advocate for implementation of COTPAPrior to COTPA, industry lobbies for voluntary code. After COTPA, industry lobbies to weaken provisions of COTPAFull implementation of COTPA is postponed for several years
2004India's FCTC ratificationNationalPublic health groups advocate for ratifying FCTC and for implementing its provisionsIndustry lobbies against ratification of FCTCFCTC is ratified but its provisions are not fully implemented
2006Public interest litigation is filed asking for enforcement of Article 11 of FCTC, implementation of GHWLsHimachal PradeshPublic health groups advocate for enforcement of Article 11 of FCTCIndustry uses economic arguments to argue against implementation of GHWLsArticle 11 of FCTC is enforced in 2012
2006–2009Tobacco industry lawsuits against GHWL law and lobbyingTobacco Institute of IndiaUnknownTo delay implementation of pictorial warning labelsDelay in GHWL implementation until May 2009
2009GHWL provision goes into effect on all tobacco productsNationalPublic health groups advocate for stronger warning labelsIndustry lobbies to weaken the warning label requirements advised by FCTCGHWLs that are implemented are criticised by public health groups as weak
Mar 2010Government introduces new GHWLs depicting oral cancer to be rotated every twelve months and initiated in June 2010NationalPublic health groups advocate for these stronger warning labelsIndustry lobbies to decrease the size and content of the warning labelsMinistry of Health and Family Welfare continues with strong oral cancer GHWLs
Jun 2010New rotating GHWL implementation delayed by government to December 2010NationalPublic health groups advocate for immediate warning label implementationIndustry lobbies to delay implementationImplementation delayed until December 2010
Dec 2010Implementation of GHWLs delayed by government to May 2011NationalPublic health groups advocate for more frequent rotation of warning labels and immediate implementationIndustry lobbies for further delayGHWL rotation changed from every year to every two years, and implementation delayed to May 2011
May 2011Implementation of GHWLs delayed pictorial warning labels to December 2011NationalPublic health groups advocate for no choice given to industry as to what GHWL to includeIndustry lobbies for choice of which GHWLs to includeIndustry is given choice of which of four images they would like to include on their labels
Dec 2011New GHWLs on all tobacco products are introducedNationalPublic health groups criticise the labels as ineffectiveIndustry lobbies for delay in implementationGHWLs are introduced on all tobacco products
Sep 2012Government announces introduction of three new GHWLs on cigarettes, bidis, and smokeless products to be introduced 1 April 2013NationalUnknownIndustry lobbies for delay in implementationGHWL implementation occurs in April 2013, when three rotating warning labels for cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco are all implemented