According to another news article published in Deccan Herald (19 March 2015), "The panel said it received representations from seven Parliament members and stakeholders like All India Bidi Industry Federation and Karnataka Virginia Tobacco Growers Association expressing apprehension on the new rule." India had signed and ratified the global tobacco treaty (formally referred to as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control -- FCTC). Article 5.3 of the FCTC is based upon the principle that there is a direct and irreconcilable conflict of interest between tobacco industry and public-health policy. Countries that are party to the global tobacco treaty are obligated to limit interaction with industry to only when essential, such as for regulatory purposes. Also whenever such interaction takes place between the government and the industry or its allies (such as tobacco growers' associations) then minutes must be documented and made public. We have filed an application under Right To Information (RTI) Act 2005 seeking those minutes as we were unable to find these online. Even the WHO has identified tobacco-industry interference as one of the biggest obstacles in saving lives from tobacco pandemic.
Will we reinvent the wheel?
We have few options in front of us on this crossroad! Are we going to reinvent the wheel? Or are we going to use existing plethora of evidence within the country on a wide range of tobacco-related diseases and disabilities; stop tobacco industry from watering down or delaying implementation of tobacco control policies; and move towards eliminating tobacco deaths at the earliest?
Bobby Ramakant, CNS
(The author serves as the Health Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), is a WHO Director-General's WNTD Awardee and Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) leader from India. Follow him on Twitter: @bobbyramakant)
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