A National Campaign to chase out the killer tobacco industry
Narendra Ch | 13 Apr 2015

The tobacco industry that is responsible for the death of around 3000 Indians everyday dictates the government's action on public health. Is it hard to believe?

Mr. Shayama Charan Gupta, the Owner of Shyam Beedi Works, told the Parliamentary committee of subordinate legislation, in which he is a member that "Beedis are made from green leaves which are dried. It has a herbal effect. Admittedly there is some nicotine in tobacco but the quantity is very small. I know because I am in the business. I can show you thousands of people who smoke beedi and are fine" This is a classic example of what the Killer Tobacco Industries capable of.

Article 5.3 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which the government of India is a signatory, warns the state parties that the tobacco industries should be kept out of lobbying in health policies. But unfortunately the Government has not only allowed the lobby but went ahead in making the beedi company owner to dictate terms on the health policies of the government.

The same practice of tobacco industry lobby in health policies existed in UPA with Praful Patel, another Tobacco owner, and an MP from NCP participating in the health policy decisions. These tobacco industries fund BJP, Congress and many other national and regional parties with huge sums.

In spite of India being a signatory to FCTC and Art 5.3 of FCTC warning that the tobacco industry should not be allowed to influence the health policies, the Government has allowed the tobacco industry owner with official recognition to be present, influence and dictate health policies.

And…… the cost of this government's inaction is huge on the common man. Millions of children and their families are left without breadwinners, billions of rupees spent by the government on treating the diseases caused by tobacco consumption and the economic burden created by these killer tobacco industries is huge on the country. On the contrary, the government is spending extensively in running Tobacco Board.

Tobacco kills 10,00,000 Indians every year. The world health organization predicts that 15,00,000 Indians will die every year by 2020 if the killer tobacco industries are not curtailed effectively.

Now the government is contemplating to allow child labour in beedi rolling. And the burning Pictorial Warning issue now. Sometime back, the issue was on the contradiction of Tobacco Industries in CSR Activities. Surrogate advertising by tobacco industries is a recurring issue. The tobacco industries continue to explore all possible ways to expand its business, attract the public and keep killing its consumers.