Companies Violating Tobacco Control Laws
Tobacco Companies Violating Tobacco Control Laws – Experts
December 20, 2008
A group of national and international experts got together to deliberate upon the manipulations by the tobacco industry so as to subvert the tobacco control initiatives in India. The interaction was coordinated by Burning Brain Society and Tobacco Free India Coalition at Chandigarh Press Club here today.
Talking about the different manipulative strategies of the mischievous tobacco industry, Hemant Goswami, the chief-coordinator of Tobacco Free India Coalition rued that under the influence and pressure from the tobacco industry, the Union Government has postponed the display of picture warnings on tobacco products for over two years since the initial notification. "Even after the 1975 Cigarettes Act, there is no warning about the fatal consequences of tobacco on any Beedi or chewing tobacco products. This situation is unique to India and very shameful for a country which claims to have one of the first consumer protection legislation and is one of the first signatory of the "Frame Work Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC)."
Goswami also highlighted the cases of "Wills Lifestyle Stores," "Godfrey Phillips awards" and "Wills fashion shows" as an indirect way of promoting tobacco brands in violation of Section 5 of the tobacco control act.
Adding to this Shoba John, an international expert and the director of "Framework Convention Alliance, USA," talked about the commitment of India in enforcing the indirect tobacco advertisement bans in consonance with the internationally binding treaty FCTC. Shoba mentioned that at the "Conference of Parties (CoP)" at South Africa held in November this year, the Article 5.3 guidelines of the FCTC were further developed after all the countries agreed that there was a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and public health policy interests. She mentioned that Article 5.3 specifically calls for ensuring that all efforts to protect tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry are comprehensive and effective.
H. C. Arora, a leading public interest activist highlighted how the tobacco companies in utter disregard for the law and national honour were marketing tobacco products bearing name and colours of the Indian flag through brands like "Tiringa" and using names like "Padam Shri," and even name of Gods and cities like "Kuber," "Ganesh," "Lakshmi," "Goa, " "Shimla" etc. on the tobacco products. "We have moved the authorities at various levels on many occasion but they appear to be smitten by inertia." Arora complained.
High Court advocate APS Shergill, who is also a member of Chandigarh Tobacco Control Cell mentioned the way the tobacco companies were trying to hob-nob with the law enforcers and the bureaucracy to subvert ban on smoking in public places in Chandigarh. He mentioned that the situation has gone so bad that certain companies from Dubai and other parts of middle east have started selling Nicotine laced products in the name of "Hookah," "Shisha," etc specifically targeted towards children. Shergill mentioned that despite all the evidence certain segment of people in the enforcement authorities preferred to side with the tobacco companies and illegally allow such activities. "The police and the drug administration should act proactively and not wait for some public spirited person to file complaints and Writs in the court." Shergill added.