23 June 2010
By Nirmala M Nagaraj
Interestingly, India was one of the early signatory of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
Now by sponsoring the event, government is violating the regulation of WHOFCTC.
According to FCTC, government should not accept, support or endorse partnerships and non-bidding or nonenforceable agreements, as well as any voluntary arrangements with the tobacco industry or any entity or person working to further its interests.
As per FCTC, the government shall not grant incentives, privileges or benefits to the tobacco industry to establish or run their business. It is therefore clear that the government is in clear violation of international laws and obligations by lending itself as a sponsor to the GTNF, 2010.
Ironically, when a similar event was organized in Malaysia, then former union health minister Ambumani Ramodoss had written to Malaysian health minister asking him to cancel the event as it was against the treaty of FCTC. The total economic cost of three major diseases caused by tobacco is estimated to be $ 1.7 billion, which is 16% higher than the total tax revenues collected from all the tobacco products in India. According to Institute of Public Health, Dr Upendra Bhojnani, as per section 5 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (COTP) act there is a total ban on sponsoring any sports and cultural events by cigarette or a tobacco manufacturers. While most of the cultural events continue to be sponsored by tobacco industry, now through GTNF India is promoting the tobacco industry.