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Experts dwell on Tobacco Product Waste (TPW) like Cigarette/Bidi Butts and Plastic pouches of tobacco & Pan Masala etc., its Health and Environmental impact in a National Consultation organized by PGIMER and SIPHER – Update Punjab


Chandigarh, 1 November
Strategic Institute of Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER) in collaboration with E-Resource Centre for Tobacco Control (E-RCTC) under Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER Chandigarh, and The Union South-East Asia (The Union) hosted a National Consultation on Tobacco Product Waste (TPW), its Health and Environmental impact. The important consultation targeted at creating an awareness among the officials in Ministries of Health and Environment along with States/UT Pollution Control Boards, tobacco control professionals, environmental experts, researchers, academicians and civil society advocates who are active on the issue. Welcoming the eminent experts Dr. Rakesh Gupta, President SIPHER said that, The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year around the world and more than 1.25 million per year in India.
Dr Sonu Goel, Professor, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGI, Chandigarh elaborated that, our aim is “Protecting environment from tobacco product waste”, as Tobacco product waste (TPW) has received little attention despite post-consumption litter produced by the approximately 6.3 trillion cigarettes smoked globally every year.

Sharing an overview of the important issue, Dr Rana J Singh, Regional Director, The Union South-East Asia said that, Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, which is a nearly non-biodegradable plastic that collects chemicals that are produced by smoking. This plastic component of filtered cigarettes may not degrade in the environment for many years.

Dr. Amit Yadav, Senior Tech Advisor, TC, The Union SEA, Mr. Chandra Bhushan CEO iFORESTS, Dr. Jagdish Kaur, Regional Adviser, Tobacco Free Initiative WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia; Prof. Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Deputy Director, Tata Memorial Centre and HOD Dept. of Head and Neck Surgery, TMH, Mumbai; Dr. PC Gupta, Director of Healis Sekhsaria Instt. of Public Health, Mumbai; Dr. Ravindra Khaiwal, Addl. Prof PGIMER were the eminent panellists’ who dwelled upon various aspects of the issue.

Mr Chandra Bhushan,an eminent environmentalist and CEO iFORESTS , elaborated that the regulatory changes that have taken place in the tobacco waste product management. While listing methods to minimize TPW burden on the environment, Mr Bhushan said, “The Government is in process to develop guidelines for cigarette butt disposal by December. The country has done tremendous work on the health aspect of tobacco; however, the environmental aspect is yet to be worked on”.

Prof. Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi Mumbai added that Tobacco not only kills 13.5 lac Indians who consume it but also kills many more millions by adversely impact our environment. Tobacco users should be conscious that they are patronising an Industry that will not only kill them but also causing humongous damage to our nature endangering all living species and polluting air/water/soil.One tree is cut for every 300 cigarette sticks.

Dr. Jagdish Kaur elaborated that WHO FCTC has provisions to deal with TPW if implemented earnestly.Adding on she said that,some 300 billion cigarette packs that produce an estimated 1 800 000 tonnes of waste paper, cellophane, foil and glue; and trillions of cigarette butts that are littered.

Dr.PC Gupta said that,even after deterioration, TPW may persist as small particles of toxic-infused plastic waste, which can leach into soil and water supplies. One smoked Cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water for 96 h reached the Lethal Concentration 50 (LD 50) for test Fish that were exposed to the leachates.

Dr Amit Yadav stated that,tons of plastic waste is also generated in the form of pouches in which smokeless tobacco and pan masala is packaged. The Environment ministry had ordered a ban of use of plastic packaging for tobacco, gutkha in 2015-16 itself. The ministry passed its order after the companies failed to adhere to the Supreme Court directive asking them to adhere to the new Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016.

Mr.C.D.Singh, IFS, Regional Office,MoEF, Chandigarh who was the Guest of honour appreciated SIPHER and PGIMeR for such lively and high standard discussions. He said that it will give enough impetus to CPCB to come up with effective guidelines on very relevant and important subject. Once done it will bring in industry wise wholistic approach in solving all related problems simultaneously.

Following recommendations came out of the consultation:

This content was originally published here.


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