Countries resolve to check e-cigarettes, hookah

New Delhi: Recognising the adverse impact of e-cigarettes which are a new craze along with hookah joints among tobacco users, India and other countries of South-East Asian region today vowed to take measures to check their use including imposing ban.

Participating in the regional meeting of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), various nations also were unanimous in admitting that hookah/water pipe is a health hazard and agreed to take appropriate measures to prevent their use, besides also introducing strong legislations and regulations to control the use of smokeless tobacco.

Agreeing to take appropriate legislative, administrative and regulatory measures to prevent the use of water pipes (hookah), countries of this region were unanimous on the fact that smokeless tobacco including use of areca nut poses serious public health problems due to its high use.

Due to high prevalence of its use, the wide diversity, the social acceptance of its use and lack of awareness of its adverse health consequences, they called for introducing strong legislations and regulations to control the use of smokeless tobacco.

The recommendations made today are in line with obligations under Article 5.2(b) of the WHO FCTC to prevent and reduce nicotine addiction including through banning E- cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).

The 4-day Regional Meeting on Implementation of WHO FCTC for South-East Asia Region was held here from July 23 and concluded today.

The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with WHO SEARO and Secretariat of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), with technical assistance by WHO Country Office.

The key objectives of the meeting were to review implementation of WHO FCTC and major developments related to the treaty in the region and internationally and to facilitate inter country exchanges on implementation achievements and challenges, including identification of the best practices and the ways of further promoting their dissemination and use.

The participants of the meeting included representatives from 10 South East Asian Countries - India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Timor Leste and Sri Lanka, besides those from World Bank, World Customs Organization (WCO), UNDP, Framework Convention Alliance (FCA).

The meeting also reviewed instruments available for implementation of the Convention, particularly the guidelines and the reporting system adopted by the Conference of the Parties and discussed international cooperation, resources and mechanisms of assistance for implementation of the WHO FCTC.

It also discussed raising awareness of the newly adopted protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products and to promote its signature and ratification.

State nodal officers of National Tobacco Control Programme from 21 states, consultants, NTCP, Bloomber Initiative (BI) Partners and select Civil Society Organizations working on Tobacco Control were also present.

The Secretariat to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was led by Head of Convention Secretariat Haik Nokigosian, while the Indian delegation was led by Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Keshav Desiraju.

During the meeting, delegates discussed issues relating to the implementation of the WHO FCTC - achievements and challenges and related to the Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products its ratification and entry into force.

Participants of SEAR countries shared their experience on implementing Article 8 (smoke-free laws), Article ? 11 (packaging and labelling of tobacco products), Article -12 (information, education and communication including training), and Article 13 (ban on tobacco advertisement).

India also showcased its efforts relating to banning of Gutkha and the implementation of the `tobacco-free movie` Rules, besides the campaign "Voice of Tobacco Victims" where patients shared their personal stories with the participants, which was appreciated by all countries.

The WHO World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) awards for 2013 were also presented on the closing day of the meeting. The WNTD award 2013 was presented to Directorate of Medical and Health Services, Government of Rajasthan; Shobha John, Healthbridge and Dr Rakesh Gupta, Rajasthan Cancer Foundation.

The WHO South-East Asia Region Regional Director’s Appreciation Award for WNTD 2013 was presented to Sanjay Kumar, Secretary Health ,Govt of Bihar; Jyotsna Govil, Indian Cancer Society; Bejon Mishra, Consumer Online Foundation; Hemant Goswami, Burning Brain Society; Kerala Voluntary Health Services and Srinivas Ramaka, Consultant Cardiologist.