New Delhi. The Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Shri Dinesh Trivedi has said that India is committed to bring down tobacco production as per the provisions of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Speaking at the inaugural session of First meeting of the Working Group under Articles 17-18 of WHO Frame Work Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Shri Trivedi said that apart from focusing on health dimensions of the tobacco consumption, there is a need for concentrating on alternative livelihood for the millions of farmers and cottage industry workers who are engaged in tobacco related activities. “ Tobacco lobby has used these two stake holders to stall many serious steps to curb the tobacco menace in the country”, the Minister said.
Shri Trivedi outlined various initiatives of the Government of India to control tobacco consumption which kills about 9 lakh people every year in the country. Shri Trivedi informed that India has enacted comprehensive legislations to curb smoking. In order to provide economically viable activity to various stake holders the Ministry is collaborating with Central Tobacco Research Institute and Directorate of Agricultural Research and Extension to establish viable, sustainable, alternatives to tobacco crops. Ministry is also in touch with Ministries of Labour and Finance to develop skills based vocational training for bidi rollers. Internationally also India is one of the pioneers in signing FCTC and containing sustained collaboration with WHO and other International Organizations.
WHO-FCTC is the only International Public Health Treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO). India along with 168 countries have ratified the FCTC. The WHO-FCTC has identified key strategies for reduction in demand and supply of tobacco products. These demand reduction and supply reduction strategies are very useful tool for all countries who want to control the epidemic of tobacco. The key demand reduction strategies include price tax measures and non-price measures (ban on smoking in public places, comprehensive ban on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship, statutory warnings, tobacco product regulations, etc.). Likewise, key supply reduction strategies include combating illicit trade, alternative livelihood to tobacco workers, alternate cropping, etc.
Articles 17 & 18 of the WHO-FCTC forms one of the core supply reduction strategy of FCTC. It envisages for economically viable alternative activities to tobacco crop and manufacturing of tobacco products; protection of environment and health of the person in respect of tobacco collectors & manufacturers. There is an urgent need to look at the supply reduction strategies, as these are most difficult strategies to implement due to challenges from other stakeholders (farmers, tobacco workers, bidi rollers). These stakeholders would become hurdles to any tobacco control efforts, if their concerns are not addressed.