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Friday, 7 January, 2000, 20:58 GMT
Anti-tobacco drive in India

Smokers More than 200 million Indians use tobacco in some form


By Jyotsna Singh in Delhi

A year-long campaign against tobacco consumption in south and southeast Asia has been launched in India.

It is part of a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative to prepare the ground for a global law on tobacco control.

Speaking at a three-day conference organised by the WHO, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said his government was committed to protect people from the adverse effects of tobacco.

Mr Vajpayee said strategies must be evolved to prevent young people from gaining access to tobacco.


Indian smoker Hand-rolled bidis are extremely popular

India is the third-largest global producer of tobacco and has more than 200 million tobacco users.

Of these, nearly 17 million are under the age of 25.

But the prime minister stressed that the social and economic fallout of the tobacco trade must be taken into account while discussing tobacco control.

Cottage industry

Over 80% of tobacco smoked in India is in the form of hand-rolled cigarettes - popularly known as bidis.

Mr Vajpayee pointed out that bidi manufacture is a cottage industry employing nearly half-a-million people.

The anti-tobacco campaign has already passed through more than 20 towns in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Organisers plan to hand over an anti-tobacco flame to volunteers from Bangladesh at Petrapole, a border town, on 31 January.

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See also:
26 Jul 99 |  Health
Chewing tobacco cancer warning
15 Oct 99 |  The Company File
The economics of tobacco
26 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Cigarette maker rejects child labour charge

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