Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 6: Health and development experts in Kerala have applauded the country's commitment to tobacco control reflected in the first 'South Asian Speakers' Summit on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals' that concluded in Dhaka, Bangladesh last week.
The Dhaka Declaration emerged after two days of deliberations by Parliament Speakers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka on January 30 and 31.
India has endorsed the 'Dhaka Declaration on SDG Action in South Asia' that envisions making the region tobacco free by 2030. With this, the country has agreed to 'develop, strengthen and enforce tobacco-control policies, legislation and regulations' in line with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a release said here.
C P John, member of Kerala State Planning Board, said "Addressing public health issues has become a challenge in emerging economies.Tobacco use in different forms is a major threat to public health and development."
"Unfortunately, tobacco abuse found in marginal communities is wrongly conceived as a tradition. So the state should come forward in controlling tobacco use by strong enforcement and regular monitoring while the responsible citizenry should take the lead in educating the masses through wide public awareness programmes," he said.
Dr K R Thankappan, Professor and Head, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies here, said "As the country is grappling with shrinking health budgets, Indias strategy to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases through controlling tobacco use is a welcome step. Multi-sectoral efforts to reduce tobacco use which kills one million Indians a year are the need-of-the-hour."
The South Asian Speakers Summit also announced the establishment of South Asian Speakers Forum that will meet at least once a year. India will host the second meeting of South Asian Speakers Forum in 2017, the release added.