New Delhi: India will soon have laboratories that can measure the amount of nicotine and tar that a cigarette contains. The first-of-its-kind apex laboratory will soon come up in Chandigarh along with four regional laboratories across the country.
The move, health ministry officials say, gains significance as the amount of nicotine in cigarettes sold in India is way above the global cut-off.
Health ministry officials will visit Chandigarh next week to work on the modalities. Regional labs will be in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai.
The labs will contain equipment that will collect the smoke and analyse the carcinogenic content. Earlier, the Central Tobacco Research Institute had found high level of nicotine and tar in the cigarettes available in India. It found that the "dangerous" content is far too high.
While the global cut-off range for tar is 10 mg per cigarette, in India it was more than 15 mg. Also, the levels of nicotine were found to be higher than the permissible limit of 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette, a violation under the Central Tobacco Act.
Helping the ministry learn this technique were experts from the Johns Hopkins University, US. The team had held classes for officials in Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Chennai. The university had provided air nicotine monitors for the cities.
While, the government's Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packging and Labeling) Act makes it mandatory for tobacco manufacturers to mention the range of nicotine and other products used in cigarettes, this is the first time that the government has made an effort in this direction.