Thursday, October 2, 2008
India Protects Passive Smokers
As of today, the Indian government has banned cigarette and bidi smoking in public places in an attempt to reduce harm to passive smokers. The double digit growth in the number of smokers in South Asia has increased the dangers faced by people forced to inhale toxic smoke against their will. As the smoking rates in developed countries have slowly declined, they have risen dramatically in some developing counties, where Philip Morris International (PMI), often described as the merchant of death, is a major player. These include Pakistan (up 42% since 2001), Ukraine (up 36%) and Argentina (up 18%), according to the Wall Street Journal. Alarmed by the data, Pakistan banned public smoking in 2003 and strengthened health warnings on cigarette packs and advertisements.
The Indian government says there are more than 120 million cigarette smokers in the country. As with other laws, the results of the ban will depend greatly on how well it is enforced. Those flouting it face fines of 200 rupees ($4.50). Tobacco smoking in India kills 900,000 people a year. That figure is expected to rise to a million by 2010.
As the governments of developing nations deal with the consequences of increase in smoking, PMI and other tobacco giants are targeting Pakistan, India, Brazil and Russia. one of PMI's immediate goals is to harness the huge potential of China's smoking population, as well as some of that country's own brands, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While Philip Morris investments in Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, India and China are expected to bring in much-needed capital and create thousands of new jobs, the proven health risks posed by smoking will also cause widespread disease and death in future years. This does not appear to be a good bargain for these emerging economies with young populations.