Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday lauded India’s tobacco control mechanisms, calling the country a “champion” for curbing “tobacco marketing in films”.
“India is a champion from the point of view in controlling tobacco marketing in films. You even have the case of Woody Allen who did not want his film released due to a regulation. They have been very relevant in the region to strengthen the cooperation on tobacco control,” said Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of Convention Secretariat of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Taking note of the “important progress” made by India in curbing the menace, Silva announced that the next conference of the convention will be held in the Asian country.
The Indian government had last year announced that cigarette packets would have to stamp health warnings across 85% of the surface and plans on raising the age of tobacco sale to 21 as well as ban the use of loose cigarettes. “Smoking or using tobacco is no longer seen as a socially acceptable behaviour; it has been denormalized. However, the more we are advancing, the more aggressive the tobacco industry is becoming. Trade has no ethics,” she said on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of FCTC.
According to the WHO Global Tobacco Control Report 2013, smokeless tobacco consumption—including chewing products such as gutkha, zarda, paan masala and khaini—is culturally more common as a form of tobacco use than cigarette smoking in India. For smokeless tobacco among adults, 32.9% of males and 18.4% females are the current users, the report said.
International Tobacco Control Project (ITCP) has estimated a death toll of 1.5 million a year in India by 2020 with the current rate of tobacco use. There are 6 million deaths globally each year due to tobacco use, WHO said.
Since the coming in of the WHO convention, 80% of the countries have strengthened their tobacco control legislations and the cost of a packet of cigarettes has, on an average, increased by 150%, Silva said. The Convention was the first international treaty negotiated under the WHO auspices and has 180 parties covering 90 per cent of the world population. India ratified the Convention in 2004. PTI