Mumbai, Jan 18: The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that every year, approximately five million people die from tobacco use and if the current trend continues, the figure may rise up to 10 million by 2030, said WHO Tobacco Free Initiative Director Dr Douglas Bettcher.
Speaking to the reporters here yesterday, Dr Bettcher explained how delay and dilution of Pictorial warnings on tobacco packs will cost the country dearly. Having delayed to implement the picture-based warnings on tobacco packs by the Centre, it was introduced by the Parliament last year and made mandatory for the country's health.
The Government has also secured another four-month extention until March 2008 from the Shimla High Court for implementing its softer version.
Speaking on the occasion, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, DR P C Gupta said, ''In India tobacco kills at least 10 lakh people every year. All the same, over 250 million use tobacco products like gutka, cigarettes, bidis and more than 5,500 adolescents initiate tobacco use every day. These figures have become a cause of grave concern amongst the human welfare organisations across the world like WHO, Salaam Bombay, Advocacy Forum and others for Tobacco Control.'' Pictorial warnings have proved to be highly effective in reducing the percentage of tobacco usage in countries like Canada, Australia, Belgium, Thailand, Brazil and the Europeon Union, where the usage has dropped on an average by one per cent per annum post implementation.
''In a country like India, where the death toll due to tobacco-related diseases spirals up to one million per year, the health burden on the economy is immense, amounting conservatively to Rs 310 million,'' informed Dr Gupta.
The architect of the hugely successful California Tobacco Control Programme Dr Dileep Bal said, ''India's proactive steps in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its enactment of a domestic tobacco control law have been recognised world over, which is why it was chosen the recipient of the highest award in tobacco control-'The Luther Terry Award in 2006.' India has won the privilege to host the 14th World Conference for Tobacco and Health here in March 2009.''