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Indian parliamentarian doubts if tobacco kills! Do not reinvent the wheel

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Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service (CNS)

Indian parliamentarian who is chairing the committee that told the government not to implement stronger pictorial graphic health warnings on tobacco packs (and raise the warning size from 40% to 85%) from 1st April 2015, cast doubts on whether tobacco causes cancer. India is at risk of reversing the gains made in saving lives from tobacco! He is the same parliamentarian who had raised similar questions in the parliament in 2011 and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the government of India had given him detailed response underlining the alarming magnitude of the tobacco pandemic in the country.

Dilip Kumar Mansukh Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from Maharashtra of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), is also the chairman of parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation, which is examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003. This committee had recommended to the government to delay implementation of more effective pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs from 1st April 2015.

People before profit or profit before people?

Should parliamentarians uphold the interests of the tobacco industry and its allies, or be vanguards of people's interests and take into cognizance plethora of credible evidence that is already with the government on how deadly tobacco is. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Health Research (DHR) of the government of India have enough scientifically-robust evidence and data to (again) convince Dilip Gandhi. He was earlier presented (in August 2011) with reliable data and evidence on tobacco-related health hazards by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in response to the questions raised by him then in the parliament. But always good to remain updated Mr Parliamentarian!

Delhi state government went steps ahead and banned chewing tobacco - setting a good and strong precedent for other state governments and national government to choose people before profits!

Tobacco Kills! Do not be duped!

There is no dearth of evidence that tobacco kills - and as Gandhi has been told by the Ministry of Health in 2011 too - the evidence comes from India.

According to a report of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, India has the highest burden of oral cancers in the world, with about 80,000 new cases of oral cancers getting reported every year. Experts from Tata Memorial Hospital have repeatedly raised alarm that rising rates of oral cancers get reported from poor states such as Uttar Pradesh.

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