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Published on : Oct 14, 2014

According to WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chan’s accusation on Monday, the tobacco industry is discouraging governments from implementing any sort of tobacco-control policies such as, banning advertising and raising taxes upon world’s first public health treaty that is included under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). 

Dr Chan was present for the opening of the sixth session of the COP6 (Conference of the Parties) in Moscow on Monday. She commented that a full implementation of the FCTC would impact the noncommunicable diseases as a single preventive blow act. COP6 is a pact where countries have signed the FCTC. 

Russia had introduced an anti-smoking legislation earlier this year; however, it was boycotted by Canada and the U.S. Nevertheless, Russia has still hosted a five-day meet over support for rebels present in Ukraine. 

These participating countries are demonstrating full support to lowering the use of tobacco and pushing tobacco taxes higher. The movement is actively seen among young users who are most sensitive towards the price issue. 

Dr Chan said the tobacco industry is implementing various bilateral investment methods to deter governments from offering health protection among citizens. Dr Chan raised the concern in May at the World Health Assembly discussing how foreign investment agreements handcuff governments and restrict their policy space. 

According to WHO estimates, more than six million people suffer bereavement from tobacco and exposure to tobacco smoke. It is one death every six seconds. In addition, the use of smokeless tobacco is highest in India as compared to other countries in the world. Hence, more than one million of deaths take place in India on average.  

The tobacco industry in India has approved the FCTC legislation and taken an effort to reduce the use of tobacco in the country. Through different methods such as, sale to minors, graphic health warnings on tobacco products, tobacco advertising, and bans on smoking in public places, the country has contested some of the key measures in the effort to reduce the use of tobacco. 

Dr Chan is called the enemy number one of the tobacco industry because of the accusation she held against the tobacco industry. However, it is a badge of honor for her and she accepts it boldly. She said giving any tobacco industry a nudge to grow their businesses is equivalent to appointing a committee of foxes to take care of chickens.

There were some concerns seen amid these meetings. A few representatives had infiltrated the discussions by registering themselves as members of the public - who are normally allowed to be a part of the committee meetings as observers. 

Following her statement about these concerns, active countries at COP6, including India have voted against these people from attending discussions.