Nearly 500 participants from more than 50 countries will come together to deliberate upon actionable strategies to fight the global tobacco epidemic, in a three-day conference beginning September 10 in the Capital.
Ministry of health and family welfare, which organizes the conference along with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and HRDIAY, on Thursday announced former Indian cricket team captain, Rahul Dravid, as brand ambassador for its National Tobacco Control Campaign in a curtain raiser ahead of the conference.
Despite effective, evidence-based tobacco control policies, smoking continues to increase in many low-and middle income countries. This disturbing trend has sparked interest among public health experts to propose innovative and even dramatic ‘endgame’ strategies to address the global tobacco epidemic.
“Unless we plan for the end now, we are going to see the continuation of the present situation. It is estimated that for at least coming two to three decades there will be very high level of tobacco consumption. Therefore, we need to do something radical,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, PHFI.
With India implementing a ban on Gutkha in 33 states and Union Territories, countries like New Zealand, Finland and Norway proposing to become tobacco-free within next three decades and Singapore and Tasmania proposing tobacco-free future generations by restricting sale of tobacco products to individuals born after the year 2000, an initiative towards an endgame for tobacco is springing in different regions of the world.
“Taxes are the most potent tool; South Africa tripled its taxes on tobacco in almost 11 years and halved its tobacco consumption,” said Dr Reddy.
The World Health Assembly has adopted a target of 30% relative reduction in tobacco use prevalence by 2025 as the global narrative on tobacco control is increasingly exploring the concept of ‘tobacco endgame’, which envisions reducing tobacco prevalence and availability to minimal levels.
While the global discourse on tobacco control so far has mostly emphasized demand reduction measures, the need to curb this industry driven epidemic becomes even more urgent in the context of sustainable development.
Since tobacco also degrades the environment in many ways, taking actions to reduce the production and marketing become a must alongside effective implementation of demand reduction measures.