In­dia com­mit­ted to WHO tobacco-con­trol treaty

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

NEW DELHI:

In­dia reaf­firmed yes­ter­day its com­mit­ment to a World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) tobacco-con­trol treaty, de­spite lob­by­ing from its $11 bil­lion in­dus­try that op­poses some mea­sures in the treaty that will be dis­cussed at a con­fer­ence next week. Del­e­gates from about 180 coun­tries will at­tend the Nov 7-12 con­fer­ence near New Delhi on the only global anti-tobacco treaty, called the Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Tobacco Con­trol (FCTC). The treaty aims to de­ter tobacco use that kills about 6 mil­lion peo­ple a year, in­clud­ing about a mil­lion in In­dia. Reuters re­ported last week that tobacco in­dus­try groups were lob­by­ing the govern­ment with let­ters and sig­na­ture cam­paigns to safe­guard the in­ter­est of farm­ers and to en­sure that no “un­rea­son­able” pro­pos­als are adopted at the con­fer­ence.

The Tobacco In­sti­tute of In­dia (TII), the cig­a­rette in­dus­try body, said in Sept. 28 let­ter to the govern­ment that “there is no obli­ga­tion on any sig­na­tory to the FCTC” to com­ply with its pro­vi­sions. The govern­ment re­sponse to those let­ters has not been made pub­lic but on Tues­day, the health min­istry pub­lished half-page no­tices in sev­eral news­pa­pers to say In­dia would ap­ply the treaty’s pro­vi­sions. “In­dia re­it­er­ates its com­mit­ment to the full im­ple­men­ta­tion of WHO FCTC,” the min­istry said in the no­tice, that in­cluded a pic­ture of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

The govern­ment said in the no­tice that tobacco “drains the econ­omy” of nearly $16 bil­lion a year. The TII, which rep­re­sents cig­a­rette mak­ers in­clud­ing ITC, part-owned by Bri­tish Amer­i­can Tobacco, and Philip Mor­ris In­ter­na­tional’s lo­cal part­ner, God­frey Phillips, de­clined to com­ment about the govern­ment no­tice. Last week, tobacco farm­ers protested out­side the health min­istry and the WHO re­gional of­fice in New Delhi ask­ing the govern­ment to boy­cott the con­fer­ence. More than 100,000 farm­ers also sent the govern­ment a pe­ti­tion seek­ing pro­tec­tion from FCTC rules.

Tobacco groups want In­dia to in­clude farm­ers in its of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion. A health min­istry of­fi­cial said last week the govern­ment would not agree to their re­quests. The tobacco in­dus­try has been at odds with the fed­eral govern­ment this year over a rule re­quir­ing mak­ers to print big­ger health warn­ings on pack­ages. The WHO FCTC con­fer­ence de­ci­sions, de­signed for im­ple­men­ta­tion at na­tional level by sig­na­to­ries, have a di­rect bear­ing on the nearly $800 bil­lion global tobacco in­dus­try. Top­ics for de­bate at the con­fer­ence in­clude al­ter­na­tive liveli­hoods for tobacco farm­ers and e-cig­a­rette reg­u­la­tion. —Reuters

ALEPPO: A Syr­ian man sells tobacco in the rebel-held side of the north­ern em­bat­tled city of Aleppo. —AFP

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