India cannot be a tobacco-free country until the people in the country adhere to the ban on tobacco consumption, Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan said here Thursday.He said that the health ministry with the help of several institutions has been framing policies to ban tobacco in the entire country, but tobacco consumers protest against these, which creates barriers in the proper implementation of the ban.Health ministry is committed to curb tobacco consumption so that people can be insulated from several dreaded cancers of lungs, mouth, and larynx. However, due to the lack of will among the citizens to quit tobacco consumption the commitment remain unfulfilled, Vardhan said speaking at the launch of a tobacco control mass media campaign "Sunita".
Sunita is a 27-year-old cancer survivor who has agreed to become the face of campaign.The 30-second advertisement has been dubbed into 17 languages for use under National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP).
According to the Report of Tobacco Control in India (2004), 8-9 lakh people die every year in India due to tobacco-related diseases.Vardhan said that the hike in the tax on the tobacco products from 11 percent to 72 percent will help the government to intensify the campaign for tobacco control in the country."I am happy that that the finance ministry on the suggestion of the health ministry increased the tax on tobacco products from 11 percent to 72 percent. The high revenue will help in intensifying the campaign for tobacco control in the country," Vardhan said.
"I also want to inform that the revenue expected from tobacco products is so high that the health ministry is looking forward to set up many more All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the country," he added.According to the ministry of health and family welfare, the total economic costs due to diseases attributable to tobacco consumption in India in the year 2011 for persons aged 35-69 amounted to Rs 1,04,500 crore.Vardhan also called for the awareness of the tobacco-related diseases among the people aged 15-25 years, who are the biggest consumers of tobacco products.