(incorporating eIMA News)
2nd April 2016
Editorial (Dr SS Agarwal, Dr K K Aggarwal)
IMA lauds Health Ministry for implementing 85% Pictorial Health Warnings on Tobacco products 
Pictorial health warnings (PHWs) are the most effective way of communicating the ill-effects of tobacco use, particularly among those with low literacy or no formal education. In a country like India, where one-third of the population is illiterate, these pictorial health warnings communicate health messages effectively and can influence decisions. 
Large and effective PHWs discourage non-users, the youth in particular, from starting; encourage current users to stop and also prevent relapse of those who have already quit. They detract from the glamour and appeal of tobacco product packages and help gain public acceptance for other tobacco-control measures such as establishing smoke-free norms.
Tobacco control advocacy has a long history in India and the movement has gained momentum in recent years.
In February 2014, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India (MoHFW), constituted an Expert Committee to study global standards on PHWs and suggest field-tested warnings for notification. Based on the Committee’s suggestions MoHFW amended the packaging and labeling rules and notified new set of Rules on October 15, 2014 with 85% pictorial health warnings on both sides of the pack to be implemented from April 1, 2015. However, while reviewing the Rules, a Lok Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation (CoSL) in its interim report recommended delaying the implementation after intense pressure from the tobacco industry and requested time to study the issue. The 85% pictorial health warnings were delayed by one year and set for implementation on April 1, 2016. Consequently, in June 2015 Mr. Rahul Joshi filed a PIL in Rajasthan High Court seeking implementation of the larger pictorial health warning, wherein the Court directed MoHFW to implement the October 2014 notification. The Karnataka High Court too vacated a stay sought by the Karnataka Beedi Industry Association, in February 2016, citing the Supreme Court’s 2009 observation that no court in the country could pass an adverse order against the implementation of the pictorial health warnings.
On March 15, 2016, the CoSL in its final report advised reducing the PHW size to 50%. 
The IMA-led Doctors for Tobacco Control in India (DFTCI) forum, which consists of organizations like HRIDAY, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Cardiological Society of India, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Association of Physicians of India, and many other stakeholders, at its first planning meeting on March 23rd decided to write letters of support for implementation of 85% PHW on both sides of tobacco packages to the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Health Minister and Finance Minister. 
A white paper on strong scientific evidence on the need for 85% PHWs, an SMS campaign with over 2.5 lakh doctors, press releases and bytes, a letter of support from Padma Awardee Doctors Forum were some of the other initiatives that IMA conducted.
Despite relentless tobacco industry pressure, the MoHFW remained steadfast in its commitment and on April 1, 2016, the Health Ministry's notification for implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 prescribing 85% PHWs on front and backs of tobacco packages came into effect in India. The Government received tremendous support from civil society actors on its decision not to consider the CoSL report. 
IMA lauds the Ministry for maintaining its stand and will support it to ensure strong enforcement of 85% PHWs on both sides of tobacco packs.
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Press Release
Ways to lower your cholesterol 
New Delhi, April 01, 2016: High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.

When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes hardening of the arteries so that they become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

Speaking about the same, Dr SS Agarwal – National President IMA & Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA and President HCFI said, “High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms; so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. Lifestyle changes are imperative given the increasing incidence of high cholesterol in people in the 21st century. There are many ways in which lifestyle diseases can be averted including living an active and healthy life, eating healthy food, staying away from cigarettes and alcohol and finding effective means of stress management. 
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  • April 25: IMA Polio Switch Day, when tOPV would be completely withdrawn and replaced by bOPV in both routine immunization and polio campaigns.
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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) presents a series of weekly webcasts for the benefit of the Indian medical profession, engaging you with the latest in advocacy efforts for doctors, through an interactive exclusive digital webcast partnership with eMediNexus.
Next Webcast: 7th April 2016