The environment, livelihoods and human existence are inter-linked and their protection is mandatory to ensure the sustainability of human race, said Ms. Preet Sudan, Former Health Secretary, Govt. of India and Chief Guest in the 2nd National Summit on World No Tobacco Day entitled “Protection of Environment from Tobacco: A Step Towards Tobacco Endgame” organized by the Resource Centre for Tobacco Control, PGIMER, Chandigarh supported by The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases. She proposed to develop community connectiveness and multi-sectorial consultation to advance tobacco control in India. The summit was attended by 670 delegates across the country with galaxy of speakers from Tata Memorial Hospital, Public Health Foundation of India, Institute for Public Health, Vital Strategies, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS) and many more national organizations.
Dr. Sonu Goel, Director, RCTC and Professor, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh and Chief Organizer of the event briefed the audience about the direct relationship of tobacco use with the destruction of our environment and natural species. It was highlighted that the entire life cycle of tobacco is a prodigiously polluting and damaging supply chain of environment. Tobacco products contain all the carcinogens, heavy metals, pesticides, and nicotine which enters the food chains of various living creatures’ viz. humans, aquatic animals, birds and hence causes irreversible harm to them, he further added.
Dr. Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases-SEA, while delivering his key note address mentioned that tobacco kills over 8 million people every year and destroys our environment, further harming human health, through the cultivation, production, distribution, consumption, and post-consumer waste. He further mentioned that around 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed to grow tobacco each year which also contributes to deforestation of 200 000 hectares of land.
The dignitaries officially released the book entitled ‘Tobacco Industry Interference: A Case Study’ edited by Dr. Sonu Goel, PGIMER, Chandigarh and Dr. Sitanshu S Kar, JIPMER, Puducherry. The case study booklet presents 8 case studies which provide an insight to the various nefarious tactics used by tobacco industry to delay, dilute and deter tobacco policies in India.
A high level consultation of the 15 National Associations working in the field of tobacco control was held. Representatives from Indian Medical Association, Indian Dental Association, Indian Association of Prevention and Social Medicine, Indian Association of Clinical Cardiologists, Indian Society of Periodontology, International Association of Paediatric Dentistry, IAPHD, International college of Dentist, Indian Stroke Association, Association of Professional Social Workers and Development Practitioners (APSWDP) joined the consultation to discuss and highlight their efforts towards Tobacco Control in India.
Among the key dignitaries, Dr. KS Sachdeva, Regional Director, The UNION-SEA; Dr. Suneela Garg, National President OMAG, Chair Program Advisory Committee NIHFW and Chair Multi-Disciplinary Unit, Department of Health Research (DHR); Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor, Tata Memorial Cancer Institute, Mumbai; Dr. Mira B Aghi, Behavioural Scientist and Communication Expert; Dr. Monika Arora, Director (Health Promotion), PHFI joined the summit.
Various recommendations were suggested by the panelists some of which include generating larger evidence on tobacco harming environment and translating into policy; involvement of multiple stakeholders (including non-health sectors) towards ending tobacco menace in the country; and enforcing ‘polluter pays principle’ on tobacco industry. .