April 22, 2016 / 11:50 AM / 4 years ago

India's top court to hear cases challenging tobacco pack warnings on Monday

A shopkeeper selling cigarettes waits in his store at a market in Mumbai, India, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s Supreme Court said on Friday it will hear petitions filed by the $11 billion tobacco industry against the government’s stringent package warning rules next week, when it will also review other similar cases filed in recent years.

The legal battle comes amid growing conflict between the government and the tobacco industry, that has sought to delay rules that from April 1 require 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface to be covered in health warnings, up from 20 percent.

The Supreme Court said it will hear the case on Monday. It will also review several other cases that challenge how health warnings are printed on tobacco products sold in the country.

The cases have been filed by a group that makes traditional cigarettes, called beedis, and the Tobacco Institute of India (TII) that represents large cigarette firms, some backed by “Big Tobacco” firms in the West.

TII says the new rules are impractical and will boost smuggling of illegal cigarettes. Its members include India’s largest cigarette maker ITC Ltd, part-owned by British American Tobacco, and U.S.-based Philip Morris International’s India partner Godfrey Phillips.

The government says it is committed to reducing tobacco consumption.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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