Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
The Bill, aimed at controlling tobacco supply and demand, consumption and advertising, is expected to go a long way in curtailing the life-threatening effects of tobacco use in Indian society.
The coalition of health professionals, research scientists, NGOs and like-minded people from organisation including Cancer Patients Aid Association, Consumer Education and Research Centre, Hriday-Shan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and VAHI has come together to form the Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC).
``It is in the nation's interest that the Bill is passed at the earliest in its current form,'' says the Coordinator of Hriday-Shan and founding member of AFTC, K.S. Reddy.
``The Bill will help in curbing the colossal threat from tobacco, increasingly corroding people's health. It will also help in preventing the sale of tobacco products to minors and curb tobacco advertising. It will be a major advance for the public health efforts in India.''
The Bill, meanwhile also seeks to put a total ban on advertising of tobacco products and prohibits sponsorship of sports and cultural events either directly or indirectly.
Also, it prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors and specifics that the new warning on cigarette packs should be more prominent in terms of liability, language, colour and display. The Bill proposes that the nictone and tar content will have to be specified on packs. Goods without specified warnings on nicotine and tar will be confiscated and penalties will be levied.
``In March this year, delegates to the World Health Organisation agreed upon the wording of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's first anti-tobacco treaty. The Indian Tobacco Control Bill has many provisions similar to FCTC, and if made into an ACT will establish India as the pioneer nation to conform to WHO standards regarding tobacco,'' explained Dr. Reddy.
According to WHO projections, by 2030 tobacco will be the leading cause of death, claiming 10 million lives a year. The proportion of tobacco-related deaths that occur in developing countries is expected to increase from the current 50 per cent of global tobacco related deaths to 70 per cent for the same period.
The incidence could be higher in India, with one billion cigarettes currently being smoked everyday. It is very likely that tobacco related deaths, which currently number 800,00-900,000 per year, would rise three to four folds over the next 30 years.
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