Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (centre) looks at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as she shakes hands with President Pranab Mukherjee during a welcoming ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi yesterday. Johnson-Sirleaf is in India on a five-day state visit.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said India is committed to a tobacco-free society and emphasised on providing alternative livelihood to those engaged in tobacco farming or manufacture.
The prime minister said India recently banned the sale of gutkha, a widely consumed form of chewing tobacco.
“India is firmly committed to the vision of a tobacco free society,” the prime minister said in a recorded message at the International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century here.
“As we act with conviction and commitment to eliminate tobacco as a threat to human health, we must also assist those engaged in tobacco farming or manufacture, to move towards economically viable alternative livelihood,” he said. More than 130 speakers from over 30 countries are participating in the two-day deliberations to discuss ways for tobacco control.
India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products in the world and the third largest producer of tobacco.
Nearly 275 million people use tobacco in India. Almost 48 percent men and 20 percent women use some form of tobacco.
Stating that India faces a unique challenge in its response to the tobacco burden, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “There are myriad varieties of tobacco products, both smoking and smokeless forms, which are widely used in India.” IANS