"Worldwide, tobacco use kills nearly six million people annually with over 600,000 deaths due to exposure to second hand smoke," she said at the inauguration, attended by Timor-Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo who was earlier the health minister of the country.(35 percent of the Adult Indian Population Consumes Tobacco)
WHO has reiterated several times the number of deaths occurring because of tobacco use in Southeast Asia and other regions. Singh said the region was one of the largest producers and users of tobacco products in the world. "Many types of smoking and smokeless tobacco products are used in the region, which makes it difficult to harmonize taxation and regulations for controlling tobacco use," she added. She said, she was encouraged by the fact that the member state in the region had intensified their tobacco control activities.
When asked later at a press conference on steps taken by India on tobacco control as compared to its regional partners, she said, India had "expressed an intention" to increase the size of pictorial warning on one side of the tobacco pack from 40 percent to 80 percent of the packet. She, however, declined to comment whether India would go ahead with its earlier commitment on pictorial warning. Singh said WHO would continue to give advisory to India on tobacco control. She said that the best thing about the regional meeting was that the countries got to know the practices carried out by other countries.
Indonesia, she said, was not a signatory to the WHO convention on tobacco control, but on its own it had required 40 percent coverage of the cigarette packet with pictorial warning about the dangerous effects of smoking cigarettes. Although India is signatory to the WHO convention on tobacco control, India was not represented at the ministerial level at the regional meeting.
The meeting is from September 7 to September 11 at the state capital of the country which lies between Indonesia and Australia and occupies a land area of 14,874 km.