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National Forum for Tobacco Eradication condemns partnership between govt ministries and tobacco industry
National Forum for Tobacco Eradication (NFTE) has sent a representation mail to Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, National Bio-Diversity Authority, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development condemning the partnership and participation of the ministry officials in the 10th Sustainable Summit.

Through the media reports and the website of the 10th Sustainable Summit it was learnt that the above mentioned Ministries are a partner in organization of the Summit, said NFTF.

NFTE has urged the various Union ministries to refrain from participating and getting associated with events organised and/or funded by tobacco industry.

In a release NFTE put forth the following points:

1: That sustainability is an extremely relevant topic for business, environment and development in general and NFTE greatly appreciative that the Government of India is engaging, debating and formulating actions to enhance it. However, it is extremely concerned that the Summit on sustainability is being co-organized and sponsored by a leading tobacco company (ITC Pvt Ltd.). The Summit also has participation by Alcohol Industry (SABMiller India).

2: ITC is India's largest cigarette manufacturing company and tobacco trading company. It produces lethal products. The Government of India estimates that the tobacco use along is responsible for over nine to twn lakh deaths every year in India. Cigarettes are major contributors to this. In that sense, the ITC has contributed to death and disease and also pushed millions of people below the poverty-line because they could not afford the cost of treatment. Tobacco use remains the biggest  public health challenge for our country.

3: Apart from the health and social harms, tobacco cultivation and manufacturing are a serious challenge to the environment. Each kilogram of cigarette tobacco consumes more than 8 kilograms of dry fuel-wood. Virgin paper for making cigarettes and packaging, and cotton for filter buds contribute additional amount of carbon and precious resources to make this detrimental and pernicious product. So tobacco companies are no where closer to discuss and preach sustainability. In fact, the ITC claims to be doing many environmental sustainability measures in garb of the corporate social responsibility. However, there could be nothing 'socially responsible' by tobacco companies when their core business of producing lethal products is against the social and health goals.

4: As signatory to the United Nations WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), India is committed to advance tobacco control. Article 5.3 of the FCTC mandates that governments will not partner or engage in dialogues with tobacco industry and confer any opportunity to them to appear as legitimate player. Section 5 of the Indian Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (2003) prohibits direct and indirect promotion of tobacco. In public interest litigation (Institute of Public Health Vs Union of India and others) the high court of Karnataka opined that the government agency logo appearing alongside logo of tobacco companies gives out message to public that the state is supporting tobacco companies. The court in that matter asked the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Indian Tobacco Board) to withdraw participation and sponsorship to a tobacco industry funded event.

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