Rajasthan’s ban on e-cigarettes highlighted at U.N. event

Published - June 27, 2019 12:14 am IST - Jaipur

The Rajasthan government's successful action for imposing a ban on e-cigarettes recently, after a sustained campaign by voluntary groups, was highlighted at the 41st session of U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, with the emphasis on the rights of tribal children, among whom addiction starts at an early age.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced the decision to ban production, distribution, advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes on May 30, a day before the World No Tobacco Day. He said the ruling Congress had promised to take steps to curb smoking and addiction among the youths in its election manifesto and the decision would prove to be effective.

The decision was taken after the recovery of a “missing file” with original note-sheets and documents following the change of government in the State Assembly elections. The file contained recommendations made by a committee of experts appointed by the previous BJP regime.

At an event on “Tobacco and Human Rights” during the U.N. Human Rights Council's session on Tuesday, speakers threw light on the impact of tobacco industry's “tactics and misleading campaign” with the use of front groups, such as farmers and tobacco vendors, to push its agenda. The experiences in Rajasthan were narrated as a case study of a region with high levels of poverty and illiteracy.

Jayesh Joshi, secretary of Vaagdhara, a Banswara-based voluntary group working for tobacco control in the State, said tribal children were the most affected, as there was no compliance with the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act in the remote villages. “Children's addiction for tobacco, starting at an early age, is a direct violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” he said.

Mr. Joshi said the action against tobacco use was not a priority for the panchayat bodies, while the smokeless and chewing tobacco and beedis, used by the rural populace, had emerged as major challenges. He suggested that the U.N. issue a new special mandate on tobacco control with a dedicated Special Rapporteur and a global alliance against tobacco use be formed at the earliest.

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