PM urged to ban sale of tobacco products

PTI Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

A file photo of a tobacco field.   -  Business Line

Seventeen regional cancer centres in India have urged the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to ban the sale of tobacco products like gutka and pan masala in the country.

“India has the highest number of oral cancer cases in the world with 75,000 to 80,000 new cases being reported every year and chewing of tobacco and gutka contribute to 90 per cent of oral cancer in the country,” Mr Jaydip Biswas, Director, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), said here.

He said the 17 regional cancer centres, including CNCI, had decided to join hands to fight the menace and urged the Prime Minister in this regard.

In a communication to the Prime Minister, the regional cancer centre directors said that easy availability of the mixture of toxic substances, which contain areca nut (supari), slaked lime and certain food additives, in small affordable pouches in every nook and corner of the country, has become a serious health hazard.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2010, nearly one-third of Indian population is addicted to smokeless tobacco.

“A large number of children and youth in India are addicted to smokeless tobacco, which contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. There are 3,095 chemical components in tobacco, among them 28 are proven carcinogen,” Mr Biswas said.

The major and most abundant group of carcinogens is the tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosoamino acid.

According to the GATS, 34.6 per cent adults consume some form of tobacco in India, 25.9 per cent adults use smokeless tobacco and 14.1 per cent of youth in India between 13-15 years of age currently use any form of tobacco products.

The survey said that about two in three adults notice advertisements on promotions of tobacco products. Three in five current tobacco users (61.1 per cent) notice the health warning on tobacco product packages and one in three current tobacco users (31.5 per cent) thought of quitting because of the warning label.

The CNCI director said the magnitude of tobacco-related cancer, on an average, was on an upward trend in eastern and north-eastern India.

“This is largely due to high prevalence of tobacco consumption,” he said, adding that there was not much control on production and sale of gutka which is sold everywhere.

The director said that to combat such a dreadful situation, a strong campaign was required to be launched to regulate production, sale and use of gutka and pan masala in greater public interest.

Published on April 12, 2011

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