Greater Noida: India and Bangladesh on Thursday called for working towards finding an alternative crop for tobacco and avoiding interference by the tobacco industry in the welfare programmes.
Both countries have put a proposal before all members of the ongoing WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) to engage relevant stakeholders and ministries of their governments in working towards the alternative crop.
Taking into account the Article 17 and Article 18 of the convention, the two South Asian countries have also urged the international community to support mobilisation of resources to promote economically viable alternatives for tobacco growers and workers.
Article 17 of the convention includes the provision of support for economically viable alternative activities and Article 18 protection of the environment and the health of persons.
“We urge all the parties to call for policy coherence in the mandates of the governing bodies of relevant intergovernmental organisations,” said the draft copy — a copy of which is available with IANS.
According to Tobacco Institute of India (TII), tobacco is an extremely important commercial crop for the country as it contributes more than Rs 30,000 crore in tax revenue annually besides earning about Rs 6,000 crore in foreign exchange.
Tobacco farming is a source of livelihood to 4.6 crore Indians. Looking at the disease burden caused by tobacco, the government wants to curb tobacco farming.
However, the tobacco growers in the last couple of months have staged a series of protests, demanding that the government provide alternate crops farming for their survival which could equate the income generated by the tobacco farming.
The world’s biggest anti-tobacco convention WHO FCTC commenced at India Exposition Mart here on November 7. It was inaugurated by Health Minister J.P. Nadda and would conclude on November 12.
India and Bangladesh, through their draft, have also proposed the member nations of the WHO FCTC to coordinate with intergovernmental organisations with relevant expertise such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to mobilise required support for interested parties in developing pilot projects.
“We want the member nations to promote international cooperation and the exchange of information among interested parties, including South-South and Triangular cooperation,” the draft report said.
“To continue to document experiences and lessons learnt concerning alternative livelihood, organise and periodically update international database of resources, within the WHO FCTC coordination platform, of best practices, instruments and measures to support the implementation of the policy options and recommendations,” said the draft report.
India and Bangladesh have also sought the WHO FCTC to monitor on parties in terms of implementation of the Article 17 and Article 18, and submit the progress reports during the next convention on the implementation of the present decisions, including the experiences gathered before the sessions.
In another proposal, India, Thailand and Uruguay have sought WHO FCTC members to create a forum for the discussions and explore possible legal options, under the auspices of the Convention of Parties (COP) and Convention Secretariat, to minimise the risk of the tobacco industry making undue use of international trade and investment instruments to target tobacco control measures.
The three countries, through their proposal, have also sought creation of expert groups to develop recommendations on combating the tobacco industry’s legal challenge to the sovereign right of the states to regulate tobacco as a public health measure.
“To develop options to provide special treatment of tobacco in trade and investment agreements, in considerations of its unique nature,” said the draft copy.
The three nations have also sought that every party of the convention should nominate members to the expert group, with a maximum of three per World Health Organization (WHO) region, taking into account relevant technical expertise, in particular in treating tobacco uniquely in trade and investment agreements.