India's largest cigarette firm ITC, maker of India Kings, Gold Flake and Navy Cut, has stopped production at all its manufacturing units in view of uncertainty over pictorial warnings to be carried on tobacco products starting this month.
The company said there was no clarity on types of warnings to be carried on the packages.
ITC has stopped production at all five units located across India since yesterday.
Confirming the development an ITC spokesperson said, "Units (for making cigarettes) are shut because of the ambiguity in pictorial warnings to be carried from December 1 onwards."
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had notified in May this year that all tobacco product packages in the country must carry pictorial health warnings depicting a cancer-stricken mouth etc., from December 1, 2010.
According to industry sources, even Godfrey Phillips India (GPI), the country's second largest cigarette maker after ITC that owns brands like Four Square, Red and White and Cavanders, has stopped production.
However, GPI spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comments.
"Companies making cigarettes and bidis have been forced to close down production due to the uncertainty regarding the warning," Tobacco Institute of India director Udayan Lall said.
He said the companies had written a letter to the ministry seeking clarity on the the kind of pictorial warnings to be carried on packs, but no clarity has emerged from the government on the same.
"We have not received any response so far," Lall added.