NEW DELHI: Dismissing repeated representations from tobacco farmers’ and industry bodies, the Union Ministry of Health has said it can’t include them as participants in the upcoming WHO tobacco control conference to be held here as it will amount to a “conflict of interest”, Express has learnt from a senior ministry official.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties (COP 7) is being hosted by India between the November 7-12. Urging the government “not to leave tobacco control to activists”, tobacco farmers’ organisations had asked the government to ensure the participation of the industry as well as the farming community in the conference. “We are concerned that at the behest of vested interests, NGOs and anti-tobacco activists in India are influencing the government’s tobacco policy and promoting extreme regulations that are already hurting tobacco farmers and the legal industry and causing widespread growth of illegal trade in cigarettes,” said Syed Mahmood Ahmad, director of the Tobacco Institute of India. India has increased pictorial warnings to 85 per cent of the total package space of tobacco products like cigarettes.