New Delhi (ISJ) ? The economic cost of smoking and chewing tobacco in India is Rs. 104,500 crore every year, almost 282% of the approved federal budgetary allocation for health and family welfare for 2016-17. The approved outlay for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Union Budget for 2016-17 was Rs 37,061.55 crore rupees.� In a statement, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to India Henk Bekedam said, ?The total economic costs attributed to tobacco use from all diseases in India in the year 2011 for persons aged 35-39 amounted to INR 104,500 crores (US$ 22.4 billion)?. He said, tobacco is one of the major causes of death and disease in the country, accounting for nearly nine lakh (0.9 million) deaths every year. Its use is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases including cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
India is the second largest consumer and third largest producer of tobacco and a number of tobacco products are available at very low prices. Nearly 27.5 crore (275 million) adults above the age of 15 (35% of all adults) are users of tobacco, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India, 2009-10. The most prevalent form of tobacco use in India is smokeless tobacco, which includes khaini, gutkha, betel quid with tobacco and zarda. Smoking forms are bidi, cigarette and hookah.
Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced and leads not only to human loss, but also heavy social and economic costs. However, there is no data available with the federal Health Ministry in India on tobacco-related mortality or morbidity. In reply to an application under Right to Information Act, the ministry said ?no such information is available with the (Tobacco Control) Division?.
Each year, tobacco kills more than 50 lakh (5 million) people worldwide. It is on track to kill more than 80 lakhs (8 million) by 2030, when approximately 80% of the deaths would occur in low and middle-income countries.
India is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). But New Delhi has not fully implemented the pictorial health warning, which currently is only 40% of the display are on the pack. In October 2014, India notified the implementation of larger warning of 85% of the display area. The global health body suggested ?large pictorial warnings on tobacco products pack is a proven, cost-effective mechanism to increase public awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and reducing tobacco consumption.
However, the decision to increase the size of pictorial warning was dogged in controversy with a Parliamentary Panel suggesting limiting the warning to 50% of the display area for pictorial warning.