New Delhi [India], August 6 (ANI/NewsVoir): Consumption of tobacco is taking a high toll on the health of Indians as more than 1.3 million people die annually due to tobacco-related diseases in the country. Considering this grave scenario, the People's Cultural Centre (PECUC), a leading voluntary organisation, together with Coalition for Tobacco Free Odisha, held a consultation with Members of Parliament (MPs) on protecting Indians, especially children and youth from tobacco-related diseases and cancer.
Parliamentarians from various political parties came together to deliberate and pledge their commitment for stronger tobacco control polices and laws in India at Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. Muzibulla (Munna) Khan, MP; Rajya Sabha, Sujeet Kumar, MP, Rajya Sabha, Sulata Deo, MP, Rajya Sabha; Niranjan Bishi, MP, Rajya Sabha; Mamata Mohanta, MP, Rajya Sabha; Thakor Jugal Lokhandwala, MP, Rajya Sabha; Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Former Union Minister of state, MP, Lok Sabha.
Speaking passionately in favour of the proposed COTPA amendment bill, Muzibulla (Munna) Khan, MP, Rajya Sabha said, "Smoking not only harms the smokers but endangers non-smokers when exposed to secondhand smoke. Treatment of tobacco-related diseases costs much more than the revenue earned from tobacco. Strengthening COTPA is an urgent requirement to save the new generation from falling into the trap of tobacco addiction."
The Government has initiated the process to strengthen the tobacco control law - Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) COTPA 2003 Amendment Bill, 2020 by addressing the existing gaps. Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Former Union Minister of State, MP, Lok Sabha said, "We need to strengthen the law for a healthy nation. A stringent law and its effective implementation are critical to reduce tobacco use in India. Although law prohibits smoking in public places it is yet continuing. Tobacco has an adverse impact on the environment too. We need to save our next generation."
The parliamentarians participating in this session unanimously assured their full support in favour of this amendment bill. They shared their views on the urgent need of improving public health by working towards curbing tobacco usage, especially among children as well as youngsters.
Sujeet Kumar, MP, Rajya Sabha said, "The proposed amendments in COTPA is a commendable move and we will try to get more MPs onboard in support of this national campaign. We will have to save our children from getting addicted to tobacco. As they mostly get hooked to the habit of tobacco at the school level we should take this campaign against the harmful substance on a war footing at the school level. We will have to also protect our children against secondhand smoke exposure."
"The government took bold action by banning e-cigarettes in 2019 to address the danger to India's youth from aggressive marketing of these nicotine-laced addictive products. We are committed to protecting our youth from the menace of tobacco by stronger laws and policies," added Thakor Jugal Lokhandwala, MP, Rajya Sabha.
Delivering the introductory remarks, Ranjan Kumar Mohanty, Secretary, PECUC said, "Considering the need of strengthening tobacco control laws, we are very encouraged to see the support from parliamentarians, who have come today to reiterate their support and commitment for a tobacco-free India."
The proposed COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) Amendment Bill, 2020 has provisions such as establishing effective penalties and fines, disallowing retail sale of loose sticks of cigarettes, prohibiting sale of tobacco products to persons below 21 years, putting controls on in-shop advertising and banning designated smoking areas at hotels/restaurants as well as at airport lounge to create a completely smoke-free environment.
More than 1.3 million people die annually in India due to tobacco-related diseases. Secondhand smoke exposure causes a tremendous economic burden of INR 567 billion in healthcare costs, annually, in addition to the staggering 1773.4 billion Indian rupees ($27.5 billion) in annual economic burden from tobacco use.
People's Cultural Centre (PECUC) is a 32-year-old civil society organisation dedicated to the cause of children, women, youths, older people, and vulnerable communities. A non-profit voluntary organisation, PECUC was formed with the purpose to empower the weaker sections of society. Over the years PECUC worked with children, women, the aged, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other socio-economically backward and marginalised communities. The "Coalition for Tobacco Free Odisha" is a coalition of civil society organisations and concerned citizens coordinated by PECUC, working together to improve public health by reducing tobacco usage, especially among children as well as youngsters and pursuing the goal of a tobacco-free India.
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