New Delhi: Public health is a priority for the Central government and suitable amendments to the COTPA Act will be incorporated without prejudice, BJP spokesperson and law expert Guru Prakash Paswan said on Sunday.
“Nearly 28 per cent of the adults (aged 15 years and above) are known to consume tobacco products. Even more distressing is the fact that 9 per cent of children aged between 13 and 15 years of age consume tobacco in some form or the other. We are sitting on a ticking timebomb and need to take quick action to ensure our demographic dividend does not convert into a demographic disaster,” he said at an online discussion titled ‘India’s Resolution for a Healthy India, Tobacco Free India’ organised by Tobacco Free India.
Public health expert and Head of the Department of Rheumatology, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr (Prof) Uma Kumar said: “In addition to causing deaths and diseases, tobacco products also burden the country’s economy by around Rs 1.77 lakh crore annually, which is roughly 1 per cent of the GDP. Affected families not only face the loss of the loved ones but are also drained financially, emotionally, and mentally.”
Dr Kumar said that the growing consumption of tobacco products among children and youth is a grave cause of concern. In addition to causing around 13 lakh deaths annually in the country, tobacco, in all its forms, causes serious diseases. Although smoking in public places is prohibited, designated smoking areas, such as those in hotels, restaurants, and airports are permitted, which inadvertently promote smoking, she added.