Tobacco Control In India


    In News

    Recently, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare addressed the virtual event to highlight 25 Years of Global Tobacco Control Progress



    • This event was part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’.
    • The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids hosted an hour-long virtual event highlighting how tobacco control movements have achieved significant declines in tobacco use in countries around the world. 

    Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund

    • They are the leading advocacy organizations working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. 
    • The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization separate from, but affiliated with, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
    • Through strategic communications and policy advocacy campaigns, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund work to change public attitudes about tobacco and promote proven policies that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives. The two organizations work closely together to achieve the greatest impact.


    Tobacco Consumption in India

    • In India, over 1.3 million deaths are attributable to tobacco use every year amounting to 3500 deaths per day, imposing a lot of avoidable socio-economic burden.
    • In addition to the death and diseases, tobacco also impacts the economic development of the country.
    • As per the WHO study titled “Economic Costs of Diseases and Deaths Attributable to Tobacco Use in India” it has been estimated that the economic burden of diseases and deaths attributable to tobacco use of tobacco in India was as high as Rs. 1.77 lakh crores, amounting to approx 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


    Consequences of  Tobacco Consumption

    • Tobacco use has negative social consequences as it affects social interactions and relationships negatively.
    • It adds to the financial burden as smokers burn through an average of USD 1.4 million in personal costs, including spending on cigarettes and associated medical costs.
    • The tobacco industry exploits farmers and children and deteriorates growers’ health as they are exposed to ill health by nicotine that is absorbed through the skin, as well as exposure to heavy pesticides and tobacco dust.
    • It has physical impacts on almost every body part and their functions and increases the risk of cancers, heart diseases and other fertility and reproduction-related problems.
    • Smokers face a 40-50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease deaths from Covid-19.
    • Passive smoking or second-hand smoke threatens the health of those who do not smoke.
    • Tobacco causes air pollution and pollutes the environment as cigarette butts are among the most commonly discarded pieces of waste globally.
    • Hazardous substances like arsenic, lead, nicotine and formaldehyde have been identified in cigarette butts, which leach into aquatic environments and soil.


    Benefits of Quitting

    • Immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting include normal levels of carbon monoxide level in the blood decreased coughing and shortness of breath, reduced risk of coronary heart disease and cancers.
    • Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases like asthma and ear infections.
    • It also reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.


     Global Reduction Efforts

    • Director General’s Special Recognition Awards: Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.
      • Indian Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been conferred the award for his efforts to control tobacco consumption in India and in 2019 national legislation to ban e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
    • WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC): It provides a strong, concerted response to the global tobacco epidemic and its enormous health, social, environmental and economic costs.
      • To help countries implement the WHO FCTC, WHO introduced the MPOWER technical package to support implementation of key strategies, such as raising tobacco taxes, creating smoke-free environments and offering help to quit.
      • FCTC’s measures to combat tobacco use include price and tax measures, large, graphic warnings on tobacco packages, 100 per cent smoke-free public spaces, a ban on tobacco marketing, etc.
    • Global Youth Tobacco Survey: It is a self-administered, school-based survey of students in grades associated with 13 to 15 years of age designed to enhance the capacity of countries to monitor tobacco use among youth and to guide the implementation and evaluation of tobacco prevention and control programmes.
    • United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): It has both the WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC as leading participants, has crafted a Model policy for UN agencies on preventing tobacco industry interference, a strong policy to prevent industry tactics operating in the UN and then ensured its implementation at the intergovernmental level.
    • Firewall by WHO: In 2007, WHO established a firewall 2007 to protect policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.
      • The United Nations Global Compact followed suit, banning the tobacco industry from participation in 2017, flagging the problematic and irreconcilable conflicts between the goals of the UN and an industry that is responsible for more than 8 million deaths per year.


    • Other Steps: In 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution for Smoke-free United Nations Premises.
      • In 2012, the United Nations Economic and Social Council called for “system-wide coherence on tobacco control”.


    Control Measures in India

    • Cigarettes Act, 1975: Tobacco control legislation in India dates back to the Cigarettes Act, 1975 which mandates the display of statutory health warnings in advertisement and on cartons and cigarette packages.
    • Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-Smokers Health Protection Act: It was passed in the Delhi assembly in 1997 and became the model for Central Legislation banning smoking in public places in 2002, on the directions of the Supreme Court.
    • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade, Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003:
      • The comprehensive tobacco control legislation aims to provide smoke-free public places and also places restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion.
    • Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019: It prohibits production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes. 
    • Tobacco Quitline Services: These toll-free quitline services (1800-112-356) were initiated in 2016 and were expanded in September 2018.
      • These are now available in 16 languages and other local dialects from 4 centres.
    • National Health Policy 2017: It sets an ambitious target of reducing tobacco use by 30 per cent by 2025, which has been devised keeping in view the targets for control of NCDs.
    • Ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
    • National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)
      • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2007- 08 in 42 districts of 21 States/Union Territories of the country.
      • Currently, the Programme is being implemented in all States/Union Territories covering over 600 districts across the country.
      • Objectives
        • To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and Tobacco Control Laws.
        • To facilitate effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Laws.
    • Other steps highlighted 
      • Measures like the displaying large warnings covering 85% of the area on packs of tobacco products, the introduction of a dedicated helpline for assisting people to quit tobacco, combating the menace of e-Cigarettes through a Statute on Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes and like devices, regulation of display and use of tobacco products in films and television programs.


    Way Forward 

    • Schools can raise awareness of the dangers of initiating nicotine and tobacco use by providing information resources and making their campuses tobacco-free. 
    • Youth groups can organize local events to engage and educate young people on the many harms of tobacco use, including its impact on personal finances. 
    • Film, television and drama production companies can pledge to no longer depict tobacco or e-cigarette use. 
    • Celebrities and social influencers can reject offers of “brand ambassadorship” and refuse sponsorship by nicotine and tobacco industries


    Source: PIB