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8-9 Lakh Deaths Can be Attributed to Tobacco Use: Health Minister JP Nadda

New Delhi: Nearly 8-9 lakh people die every year due to diseases related to tobacco use, the government today said while assuring the Rajya Sabha that a number of multipronged initiatives to reduce its consumption in the country have been undertaken.

“As per the report of Tobacco Control in India (2004), each year 8-9 lakh deaths in India can be attributed to tobacco use,” Health Minister JP Nadda said in a reply.

He said that as per the findings of the study “Economic Burden of Tobacco related Diseases in India” (2014), commissioned by the Health Ministry, the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 for persons aged 35-69 accounted for Rs 1,04,500 crore.

Replying to another question, he said that the government had notified a few new rules on October 15, 2014 as per which, health warnings shall cover at least 85 per cent of the principal display area on both sides of the tobacco products.

“The committee on Subordinate Legislations, 16th Lok Sabha is currently examining the rules. The committee submitted its interim report in Lok Sabha on March 18, 2015 recommending to keep in abeyance the implementation of the rules till the committee finalises the examination of the subject and arrive at appropriate conclusions and present an objective report in the House.

“Considering that the report of the committee is interim in nature, the Ministry decided to keep the notification in abeyance. Accordingly a corrigendum was issued on March 26, 2015 suspending the date of implementation and stating that the rules shall come into force on such date as the central government may by notification in official gazette appoint,” the Minister said.

Other initiatives include ratification of WHO framework convention on tobacco control, launch of national tobacco control programme, launch of pilot project titled ‘Alternative crops for ‘bidi’ and chewing tobacco in different agro-ecological sub-regions’ and notification of rules to regulate depiction of tobacco products of their use in films and television programmes.

“The government is not under any pressure from the tobacco lobby,” Mr Nadda said.

Replying to another question, Mr Nadda said the government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee of secretaries under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary to review and develop a comprehensive policy on tobacco and related issues.

He said the government got an external evaluation done of the National Tobacco Control Programme through Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

“Recommendations of this evaluation have been suitably incorporated in the 12th Five Year Plan for national tobacco control programme to make the outcomes more effective,” Mr Nadda said.

When asked whether the government has stakes in cigarette manufacturing companies in the country, he said information is being collected and will be laid on the table of the House.

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