MUMBAI: Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has taken up the cause of tobacco farmers, who have protesting against the government's decision to ban smoking and smokeless tobacco products on the grounds that it adversely affects their livelihood. He has written to the agriculture and commerce ministers asking for a joint meeting on October 29 to discuss alternatives to the tobacco crop, said a press release sent by the Voice of Tobacco Victims.
''Dr Harsh Vardhan has initiated this coordinated, multi-ministerial move so that interest of farmers is protected. As the policies invoked by this government start to reduce demand, it is important that supply side measures are taken to reduce supply of tobacco,'' said the release.
The minister's letter points out that the Union government, having ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), is committed to implement effective strategies for tobacco control in the country. ''The Charter of Tobacco Board, which works directly under ministry of agriculture and commerce control, comes in conflict with some of the provisions of FCTC. As per Article 17 of FCTC - there have to be provisions of support for economically viable alternative activities,'' said the press release.
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