ITC to resume cigarette production amid health warning row

A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata September 4, 2012.  REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC Ltd will soon resume production at its factories, the company said in a statement, two weeks after it decided to shutter its plants over the government’s stringent new packaging rules.

India from April 1 ordered 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface to be covered in health warnings, up from 20 percent, but cigarette firms halted production saying the policy was not clear.

India’s $11 billion tobacco industry is up in arms against the new rules and has taken New Delhi to court. Industry estimates show the production halt has already cost $850 million and risks the livelihood of millions of farmers.

In a statement to the Indian stock exchange late on Friday, ITC, which is part-owned by British American Tobacco, said it will resume manufacturing of cigarettes “consequent upon a high court order passed in favour of the company”.

It did not give any details of the court decision. It was not immediately clear whether the company will print bigger health warnings on its packs or not.

[Source:- Reuters]