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India has officially endorsed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP), bringing the treaty one step closer to coming into effect. The ITP will be in force after it has been ratified by 40 countries and the treaty links to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“The Union welcomes this hugely significant step by India. I congratulate the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, on officially becoming a party of the WHO's ITP,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director, The Union. “It is heartening to see that, as the host country of COP 8, India is showing leadership on greater commitment to tobacco control worldwide.”

The new treaty aims to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. It provides tools for preventing illicit trade by securing the supply chain; establishing an international track and trace system by countering illicit trade through dissuasive law enforcement measures; and introducing a raft of measures to enable international cooperation. The Protocol is based on Article 15 of the WHO FCTC. It was negotiated by the Parties to the WHO FCTC over several years and was adopted in November 2012.

By ratifying the ITP, India has shown the way for effective global tobacco control. The move comes in the wake of a growing illegal tobacco market in India, which is threatening tobacco control by flooding the markets with cheaper foreign brands of tobacco that are in turn easily accessible to consumers.

As recorded in GATS-2, India has 276 million tobacco users with more than 1.3 million people dying from tobacco use each year. Since 2000, India has made rapid progress in tobacco control with the enactment of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the launching of a National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) with government funding, and the implementation of 85 percent Graphic Health Warnings on the packaging of all tobacco products. The Union has been a close partner of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, providing support to the expansion of its NTCP programme and the implementation of all COTPA measures at both national and sub-national levels.

About the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union):

The Union is a global scientific organisation with the mission to improve health among people living in poverty. We do that by conducting scientific research, working with governments and other agencies to translate research into better health for people around the world, and delivering projects directly in the field. The Union is made up of a membership body of people around the world who help to advance our mission, and a scientific institute that implements public health projects within countries. For close to 100 years, we have been leaders in the fight against some of the world’s biggest killers, including tuberculosis, lung diseases and tobacco use.

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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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