New lab to test cigarette tar, nicotine

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 India. The move, health ministry officials say, gains significance as the amount of nicotine in cigarettes sold in India has been found to be way above than the global cut-off.

Senior officials from the health ministry will visit Chandigarh next week to work on the modalities. The regional laboratories will be in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai.
The labs will contain equipment that will collect the smoke and analyse the carcinogenic content that it contains. 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 than the global cut-off. While the global cutt-off range for tar is 10 mg per cigarette, in India it was found to be 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 univeristy had provided air nicotine monitors for the cities. The health ministry has also floated tenders for procuring equipment.
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.

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