Dehradun India

Press Note

Dr. Rakesh Gupta, MS, former Director Health Services, Punjab elected to the post Vice Chair of the ‘Tobacco Control Section committee’ of International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (commonly referred as The Union)

Chandigarh, 23rd July 2022

Dr Rakesh Gupta, former Director Health Services, Punjab and presently working as the President & Director of Public Health, Strategic Institute for Public Health Education & Research (SIPHER) has won the election of the Tobacco Control Section committee as Vice Chair. This was revealed in a communique received from the Paris Headquarter of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), here today.

Dr Rakesh Gupta has a professional experience of more than 40 years and he has served for more than 12 years in managing national non-communicable diseases including the key programmes like Blindness and Tobacco control. He is also an alumnus of John Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore & University of California San Francisco US. He represented India during the WHO Consultation held in Panama in the year 2016 and in Geneva in the year 2017, and is also a recipient of the prestigious WHO World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Award.

Dr Rakesh Gupta stated that “The Union’ is a global leader in the fight against tobacco use and centres its tobacco control work around the WHOs Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international health treaty and a package of evidence-based measures proven to reduce tobacco use called MPOWER. Their work has spanned over 50 countries, impacting two-thirds of the world’s smokers and the focus is on low- and middle-income countries, where 80 percent of tobacco deaths occur. He said that ‘The Union’ co-manages the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use Grants Programme, which awards funds to projects delivering high-impact tobacco control interventions in low- and middle-income countries. In year 2019 The Union launched the Global Implementation Programme, which supports cities in effectively implementing tobacco control laws, and is a key partner in STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog. Both projects are also funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Talking about his priorities in Tobacco Control he said that, “the way forward for the countries of the region is not easy and fraught with challenges, but this is the time to patiently build on what has been accomplished. Besides sustaining the gains, the Indian government needs to accelerate the implementation of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control, with a special focus on tobacco taxation and supply‑side issues. A unified approach that engages all the stakeholders and enables increased investment in tobacco control by the government is needed for advancing towards the endgame. We need to accelerate the process of COTPA amends, raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21, compulsory licensing of tobacco vendors, strictly implement the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act PECA 2019, ban Hookah bars permanently and upgrade the Tobacco Cessation facilities in Government as well as private health facilities”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Garima Bhatt from DCM SOPH, PGIMER has been elected as the Programme Secretary and Prof. Sonu Goel, Director E-RCTC, Department of Community Medicine, presently the Vice Chair, will be taking over as the Chairperson of Tobacco Control Section, The Union w.e.f. December 2022.

Prof Sonu Goel stated that, tobacco use continues to be a major cause of morbidity, mortality, and impoverishment, killing more than eight million people annually. Of these, direct tobacco uses accounts for more than 7 million deaths while exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) results in approximately 1.2 million deaths. The global economic cost of smoking tobacco is estimated to be about US$ 1.4 trillion or around 1.8% of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). The majority (80%) of the globe’s 1.3 billion tobacco users reside in low‑ and middle‑income countries. Being the major avoidable cause of all Non-Communicable Diseases, we all need to prioritize Tobacco Control.


Dr. Rakesh Gupta M.D.

President & Director of Public Health, Strategic Institute for Public Health Education & Research (SIPHER)

Visiting Faculty, University Institute of Applied Health Sciences (UIAHS), Chandigarh University

Recipient of WHO WNTD Award

Certified Tobacco Cessation Specialist (CTCS)

Former-Director Health Services and

Director of Chemical Examiner Lab

Govt. of Punjab, Chandigarh

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