Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'World No Tobacco Day' Declares Fight With Tobacco Industry

World No Tobacco Day-2012 Theme:' Tobacco Industry Interference'

Way back in September 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) had announced the theme of the year-2012, 'World No Tobacco Day', a theme which is of very fundamental importance: "tobacco  industry  interference".

                                                                                           WHO/J. Holmes
                                  Woman smoking, Lao People's Democratic Republic (2008)
The 'World No Tobacco Day-2012' will take place on Thursday, 31 May 2012.
The event campaign will focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry's brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) because of the serious danger they pose to public health.

It is now widely known that tobacco use is one among the leading preventable causes of death. While the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people annually, over 600,000 are those who were  exposed to second-hand smoke. Staggering  8 million deaths are on card by 2030, if we do not act now. Of those under threat above 80% will be those who live in low- and middle-income countries.

As more and more countries move to fully meet their obligations under the WHO FCTC, the tobacco industry's efforts to undermine the treaty are becoming more and more energetic.

In an attempt to halt the adoption of pictorial health warnings on packages of tobacco, the industry recently adopted the novel tactic of suing countries under bilateral investment treaties, claiming that the warnings impinge the companies' attempts to use their legally-registered brands.

Meanwhile, the industry's attempts to undermine the treaty continue on other fronts, particularly with regard to countries' attempts to ban smoking in enclosed public places and to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

World No Tobacco Day 2012 will educate policy-makers and the general public about the tobacco industry's nefarious and harmful tactics.

The year's theme is in keeping with the 'letter and the spirit' of the WHO FCTC. The preamble of the treaty recognizes "the need to be alert to any efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control efforts and the need to be informed of activities of the tobacco industry that have a negative impact on tobacco control efforts".

In addition, Article 5.3 of the treaty states that "in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law".

Furthermore, the guidelines to the implementation of Article 5.3 state that Parties are recommended to "raise awareness about…tobacco industry interference with Parties' tobacco control policies".

On World No Tobacco Day 2012, and throughout the following year, WHO will urge countries to put the fight against tobacco industry interference at the heart of their efforts to control the global tobacco epidemic.

Facing the challenge of Tobacco Indusstry in India:

Though armed with the WHO declared fight against the industry's agressive and brazen means to promote consumption and  sale of tobacco products, it is a challenge for the government to act on ground. A brief on India's tobacco industry and products follows.

Tobacco introduction in India dates back to 1508 when it was brought in by Portuguese merchants,, and cultivation started in Western coastal region. According to available annual production of tobacco in India, in 1997-98, was about 6,46,000 tons. India is today the third leading tobacco producer, after USA and China, in the world. Major tobacco producing states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Maharashtra.

Tobacco is utilised for producing ciga­rettes, cigar, bidies, hookah tobacco, chewing to­bacco and snuffs.

The  cigarette manufacturing industry in India is highly organised. Over 25 cigarette manufactur­ing companies produce most of the well-known brands  in the country. Kolkata, Mumbai, Vadodara, Ghaziabad, Bangalore, Saharanpur, Munger, Allahabad, Jalandhar and Hyderabad are the important centres of cigarette manufacturing in the country.

The Cigar is mainly manufactured in Dindigul, Chennai and Tiruchchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, besides the other two states West Bengal and Orissa. Mostly Virginia tobacco from Guntur and Tiruchchirappalli areas is preferred in cigar making.

Bidi are poor man’s cigarettes. These are made from cheap tobacco in mixtures wrapped in leaves of tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) and kachnal (Bauhinia racemosa), found in the forests of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. Bidi making is a popular cottage industry in many parts of the country, in particular Jabalpur, Gondia, Nagpur, Kamptee, Bhandara, Pune, Sinner (Nashik), Nipani (Belgaum), Bhind and Mangalore.

Cheroot in particular is made in Chennai and Tiruchchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, made from superior quality tobacco mostly obtained from Tiruchchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu.

Hookah tobacco is an important smoke for rural folk in North India. It is available in two types : (i) mitha, and (ii) kadwa which are prepared by mixing the cured tobacco leaves with jelly obtained from semi-used molasses. Delhi, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Rampur are important centers of manufacturing hookah tobacco.

Chewing tobacco forms are Zarda, Qiwami, Danedar, Pan Masala avail­able in the market. To make chewing tobacco leaves are soaked in the lime water, dried, mixed with scents and chemicals. Chewing pan masala is gaining popularity in youngsters and lower sec­tion of the society both in urban and rural areas. The harmful chemicals used in such pan masalas have increased the occurrence of deadly mouth and throat diseases including cancer. Chewing tobacco in particular is common in northern India.
The Central Tobacco Research Institute, Rajahmundry conducts research on tobacco. Similarly  specialised research institutes for cigarette are at Guntur, for Bidi at Anand, for cigar and cheroot at Dindigul, for chewing to­bacco at Pusa (Bihar), and for hookah and snuff tobacco at Firozpur.

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