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Will Gujarat take the lead to ban chewing tobacco?

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on November 07, 2019 Published on November 07, 2019

As per the National Health Profile 2019 data, the cases of common cancer, including oral cancer has risen by over 300 per cent in the last one year in India with Gujarat recording the largest number of cases.

An NGO presses for a ban on chewing tobacco to contain abuse

Will Gujarat take the lead in bringing a complete ban on chewing tobacco? At least that's the effort, an Ahmedabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) High on Life Foundation is trying to make.

With oral cancer posing a major threat on the overall health of the society - mostly the lower-income strata - the High on Life Foundation is taking the lead to make a representation before the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani seeking a complete ban on chewing tobacco across the State and set an example for the country.

India adopted anti-tobacco legislation in 2003, thereby prohibit tobacco smoking in public places and regulate the sale of tobacco products and their advertisements. However, so far, there is no pronounced ban on chewing of the tobacco.

Notably, the gutka (pre-mixed chewing tobacco pouches) has already been banned. But the edicts have found an alternate way of getting individual inputs of the "mix" separately including raw tobacco.

"The ban on gutka has become ineffective because the abuse of tobacco hasn't stopped. Since, we can't ensure supply reduction, the better and effective way is demand reduction by imposing a complete ban. We have written to the Chief Minister seeking his time to meet in person to present our case," Sagar Brahmbhatt, President, High on Life Foundation told BusinessLine.

Awareness campaign

In its effort, the Foundation has announced to launch of a campaign to bring attention to this urgent issue through schools - initially to begin from Ahmedabad.

From November 14, the city schools will be invited to send their one Ambassador each for the campaign.

"These children will make a formal representation to the Chief Minister, Gujarat on November 14, on Children’s Day to declare Gujarat a chewing tobacco-free state and ban the manufacturing, distribution and sale of chewing tobacco," stated Brahmbhatt.

While the foundation was registered as a trust in 2017, Brahmbhatt has been engaged in the awareness activities for drug-free society in association with Gujarat Police and the local office of Narcotics Control Bureau.

Recently, in its major crackdown on illicit substance abuse, Centre has imposed a complete ban on nicotine e-cigarettes.

Brahmbhatt added further, "Now that there is a precedence to ban nicotine-based E-Cigarettes, there can be no reason why a ban on a more dangerous item, and one which is confirmed to cause cancer, can not be imposed."

Data showed that chewing tobacco emerged as the giant killer in Gujarat, much more than beedi and cigarette smoking. "It kills people, destroys families, it creates a huge burden on the economic health of the state in terms of medical costs," Brahmbhatt added.

As per the National Health Profile 2019 data, the cases of common cancer, including oral cancer has risen by over 300 per cent in the last one year in India with Gujarat recording the largest number of cases.

Quoting National Cancer Registry, he also stated that 56.3 per cent of all the cancer cases reported in men in Gujarat are tobacco-related. The data also revealed that Ahmedabad topped the registries in the overall incidence of oral cancer.

Published on November 07, 2019
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