Regulatory Compliance of Health Warnings on Tobacco Packs in Karnataka, India

Somya Mullapudi, Muralidhar M. Kulkarni, Veena G. Kamath, John Britton, Crawford Moodie, Asha Kamath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: In September 2014, the Government of India introduced legislation requiring all tobacco packaging to display a health warning covering 85% (60% pictorial, 25% text) of the principal display area of the pack, of at least 4 cm in height and 3.5 cm width, with legible text in a white font on a black background and in English and/or the same Indian language as the language used on the pack. We evaluated compliance with this legislation in the Udupi district of Karnataka, India. METHODS: We procured one example of every tobacco pack of cigarettes, beedis, chewing tobacco, and snuff sold by a convenience sample of retailers in one urban and two rural areas in each of the five administrative blocks of the Udupi district between June and August 2018. For each pack we measured the size of the health warning, calculated the proportion of the pack covered, and assessed the legibility. RESULTS: A total of 365 packs were collected from retailers, with 357 of these branded and eight, all packs of snuff, unbranded. Warnings on 320 (87.3%) packs did not reach the legally required proportional magnitude, warnings on 140 (38.4%) packs were not legible, and warnings on 117 packs (32.1%) did not meet the language requirement. Only 45 packs (12.3%) were fully compliant. CONCLUSIONS: Compliance with warning legislation in this district of India is low, highlighting the need for more effective enforcement. IMPLICATIONS: Warnings on tobacco packaging are an important and inexpensive means of communicating the harms associated with tobacco use. However, relatively few studies have explored regulatory compliance with warnings. We collected all unique tobacco packs from 66 retailers in a district in Karnataka in India and assessed whether each met the legislative requirements in terms of warning size and proportion of the pack covered, legibility, and the language used. Of the 365 packs collected, only one in eight was compliant with the legislative requirements. This study highlights the importance of assessing warning compliance and the need for enforcement in India.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1419
Number of pages5
JournalNicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 04-08-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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