GUWAHATI, Nov 8: Consumer VOICE, New Delhi along with Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam urged the government to strengthen the tobacco laws to reduce the consumption of tobacco and prevalence of cancer cases considering recommendation of 139th report of Parliamentary Standing Committee of Health and Family Welfare.
The committee expressed its concern that while thousands of crores are spent by both central and state governments on treatment of cancer, however, the desired focus is not given to its root cause i.e., tobacco consumption.
The committee has recommended the government to formulate effective policies on tobacco control as there is an urgent need to disincentivise the consumption of tobacco in the country. The committee recommends that government should formulate strategies to stop the teen-population from falling prey to the tobacco addiction
The committee has also recommended the government to abolish designated smoking areas in airports, hotels, and restaurants and encourage a smoke free policy in organisations. The committee further recommends the government to prohibit single stick sales of cigarettes and lay stringent penalties and fines on offenders.
As per advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam, “Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer cases which are preventable. Government should consider the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee and strengthen the tobacco laws. I applaud the government of India for starting the process of tobacco control law COTPA 2003 overhauling, as this is an important step towards improving public health. There is an urgent need to strengthen the provisions for making India smoke free and protect millions of Indians from tobacco related diseases and deaths”
Notably, India has the second largest number 27 crore of tobacco users in the world (according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017) and of these more than 13 lakhs die every year from tobacco related diseases. According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, nearly one- fifth of students aged 13-15 years are using tobacco products in India. This nationwide survey released by the Union Health minister, revealed that 38 percent of cigarettes, 47 percent of bidi and 52 percent of smokeless tobacco users picked up the habit before their 10th birthday.