A leading health expert has urged all the public sector giants to dissociate themselves with the ITC. On the occasion of 'World No Tobacco Day' today, he has pleaded the public sectors like Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), General Insurance Corporation and Unit Trust of India (UTI) to disinvest in Indian Tobacco Company (ITC).
"The biggest stake holder in ITC is the British American Tobacco company and then comes the three Indian public sectors who, if I am not wrong, holds a combined stake of nearly 20 percent in ITC," said C.R. Soman, chairman of Health Action by People - a leading NGO working in the community health sector in Kerala.
The ministry of health and family welfare had earlier imposed a ban on smoking in Indian films and television serials.
"These three public sectors have one member each in the director board of ITC. Isn't this hypocrisy?" asked Soman.
A few years ago, Soman's organisation had appealed, through schoolchildren, to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar not to associate himself with ITC.
"LIC charges smokers extra when it comes to calculating premiums on their policies, but deposits the very same money in ITC. It is time that the government of India takes active steps in coming clean and disassociate itself from the tobacco industry."
Soman, in 2000, had sent a memorandum signed by nearly one million school children from Kerala asking the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to enact the Tobacco Control Bill.