Several chief ministers and legislators do not want the war on tobacco, according to Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss. But that won’t stop the Centre from backing out, he added.
“Four chief ministers and 150 MPs met me and seven chief ministers wrote to me only to persuade me against introducing laws against smoking in public, tobacco-related advertisements and warning pictures on cigarette and beedi packs,” Ramadoss said at a conference on Monday.
“It’s a pity that even the Tamil Nadu chief minister wrote to me against warnings on beedi packs, arguing that it would affect the livelihood of beedi workers,” Ramadoss said, referring to a letter written by M. Karunanidhi on May 6. He did not name the other chief ministers. “Where is our country heading to? Which is of greater concern — 30 lakh beedi workers or 110 crore people? Forty per cent of all health problems in India are due to tobacco,” he said. The Centre was spending Rs 45,000 crore on tobacco-related health problems, he added.
Ramadoss said a tobacco regulatory authority will be set up in three months to ensure that the ban on smoking in public places is implemented.