Despite knowledge of adverse effects of tobacco consumption there has been a significant rise in in its consumption in the form of cigarettes worldwide. It is estimated that more than 1 billion people smoke 5.8 trillion cigarettes every year. Among all the nations, Greece has the highest per capita consumption per year. Estimates suggests more than 80% of all smokers now live in countries with low or middle incomes. In fact China leads the list of 10 countries that accounts for 60% of all smokers. The Indians tobacco market accounts for $10 billion and there are around 1 million tobacco deaths every year.
World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31 to encourage abstinence from tobacco consumption. This year the theme is aligned with the restriction on advertisement of tobacco products. The theme promotes plain packaging of tobacco products as reduction measure and increasing the effectiveness of health warnings. In December 2012, Australia became the first country to fully implement plain packaging. In India, there has been an ongoing debate with cigarette companies on the subject and apparently ITC closed down its factories as a mark of protest in April’16 however, resumed its production in May’16 complying with the specified 85 per cent graphical warning in spite of pending hearing in the Karnataka High Court. As per the Tobacco Institute of India which represents the tobacco farmers, manufacturers and exporters legal cigarettes account for only 12 percent of overall tobacco consumption in the country. Therefore, the government regulations, increase of taxes, packaging changes, etc. doesn’t lead to decrease in tobacco consumption.
Currently, India is the third-largest producer of tobacco in the world, producing around 800 million kg of tobacco every year. The nation accounts for more than 12% of the world’s raw tobacco production. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu, with Karnataka responsible for 80% of India’s tobacco production. Indian tobacco is exported to more than 80 countries.
These statistics suggests that there is a lot of transformation that is required as tobacco is not only causing more than a million deaths but also resulting in decline and loss of biodiversity. In many parts of the country firewood is required to dry the green tobacco leaves which leads to depletion of forest cover. In fact the highest number of forest burning incidences occur in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which are major tobacco producers.
Let us hope that in the years to come more stringent laws are imposed and alternate livelihood opportunities for the tobacco producers can be created. There is a need of implementing a holistic plan to reduce tobacco consumption drastically in the next 5 years.
Smoking leaves an unseen scar, it fills your insides with toxins and tar. Quit Now!
By Rahul Choudhury
Media & Communications, Fiinovation