A law to ban smoking in public places could save more lives more quickly than the development of a single new anti-cancer drug - according to Cancer Research UK.
The Indian Government finally seems to have woken up to this reality and has announced a definitive plan to ban public smoking in Delhi and Mumbai by 2009. The announcement is a welcome move. But how far this will be successfully implemented is a matter of debate.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco causes one in 10 deaths worldwide which translates to someone in the world dying of a smoking-related disease, every eight seconds.
By 2010, it is estimated that the annual global cost of tobacco use will be half a trillion USD. This is more money than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 174 of the 192 member countries of the United Nations.
In India, the cigarette market is growing at around 4% every year, but what is more worrying is that the non smoking tobacco segment, including guthka, chewing tobacco, zarda, has seen 15 per cent growth. The hike in excise duties on both cigerette and bidis in this year’s budget maynot dent either the production or the consumption pattern. Also, it maybe too soon to comment. Just like every-where-else in the ‘developing world’, the tobacco lobby is strong and would have a covet operation plan to counter this move by the government.
Personally, to smoke or not is a matter of individual choice. But in a public setting this freedom of choice need not exist. I am reassured that the Government is taking this into cognizance and taking steps towards smoke-free public space.
Sorry folks. Smoke, if you have to. Just keep your butt out of our public places.