New Delhi: A World Health Organisation report released on Tuesday has cited India’s multiple initiatives on tobacco control, improving access to proprietary medicines, and curbing acid attacks among examples of deploying the law to safeguard health.
The new report from WHO ‘Advancing the right to health- the vital role of law’ in collaboration with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), the University of Sydney and Georgetown University in Washington DC describes ways in which law makes a crucial difference for public health.
The report also cited a soda tax in Mexico, salt limits in South Africa, plain tobacco packaging in Australia, national health insurance in Ghana, mandatory motorcycle helmets in Vietnam and health care in the US, as other examples of legal initiatives that have played a vital role in safeguarding and promoting good health around the world. The report features case studies from around the world on how the law has improved the health and safety of populations, providing a resource for countries to learn from the experience of others.
“After considering the effect of smoking on both smokers and non-smokers, the Court (Supreme Court of India) issued an order prohibiting smoking in public places and requiring federal and state governments to ‘take effective steps to ensure [the prohibition of] smoking’ in ‘auditoriums, hospital buildings, health institutions, educational institutions, libraries and court buildings, and public conveyances including railways”.
“The effect of this order was to give constitutional protection against exposure to second-hand smoke in public places in India. In 2003, the Parliament of India passed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, which prohibits smoking in a ‘public place’, defined to include the places identified in the order of the Supreme Court. Cases like this illustrate that litigants and public health organizations, can be powerful agents for change,” the report said.
The report also talked about how in 2012, India implemented regulations that make television broadcasters and cinema and theatre owners responsible for broadcasting anti-tobacco messages to counteract the depiction of smoking and other forms of tobacco use in films and television programmes. .