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Renewed Efforts Against Tobacco Use Needed To Move Forward On Sustainable Development

“A billion persons are likely to die from tobacco-related diseases in this century, according to WHO,” and “India is expected to have the highest rate of rise in tobacco related deaths, over the next three decades,” R.K. Pachauri, director of TERI; K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India; and Shyam Saran, chair of the National Security Advisory Board, write in a Hindu opinion piece. “Tobacco is not merely a health hazard. It is also a threat to the environment,” they state, asking, “With millions of undernourished children and hungry people across the world, should the world be wasting four million hectares of arable land on tobacco instead of growing food crops?” In addition, “[t]obacco is linked to poverty, both as cause and consequence,” the authors write and describe the link.

“Countries across a wide spectrum of development have shown how effective regulatory measures can reduce tobacco consumption and its health burdens — Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Thailand and Bhutan are among the outstanding examples,” the authors state. “However, this global threat now calls for a concerted global thrust to lift the dark shadow of tobacco from the 21st century,” they write, adding, “As the world awaits the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, we must recognize tobacco as a grave threat to humanity’s aspirations for progress and wellbeing.” They continue, “Whether we are concerned about health, environment, food security, water security or poverty reduction, we have to work for a tobacco free society. Otherwise, tobacco will frustrate all prospects of sustainable development” (8/14).