New Delhi, Government today rebutted the controversial statement made by two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members of a parliamentary panel questioning the linking of tobacco with cancer, saying there was a direct link between the two.
Replying to a question in Lok Sabha, Health Minister J P Nadda also indicated that the government would go ahead with its decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on the package of tobacco products.
“There is a direct relation between the consumption of tobacco and cancer… The ministry is consistent and crystal clear in its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption. We will go ahead once the panel submits its report,” Nadda said.
His comments came as Opposition members attacked the government over the statements of two BJP members of the Parliamentary Committee of Subordinate Legislation that there was no Indian study to link the use of tobacco with cancer, triggering a row.
Nadda also cited studies, including Indian, to buttress his point and rejecting the claims by the panel’s head Dilip Gandhi and member Shyam Charan Gupta.
Government has put on hold its decision asking tobacco firms to introduce pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of packaging for tobacco products after the panel urged it to wait till it submits its final report. The rule was to come into effect from April 1.
However, Nadda did not say if his ministry continued to stick to the earlier decision about the size of warnings or was open to make some changes.
Replying to supplementaries, he said “the relative risk for death due to tobacco use in studies from rural India is 40 percent to 80 per cent higher for any type of tobacco use; 50-60 percent higher for smoking, 15-30 percent higher for tobacco chewing in men and women… Tobacco is carcinogenic. It is directly linked to cancer.”
Expressing concern over the BJP MPs’ claims, Supriya Sule (NCP) said her family had suffered from oral cancer, a reference to her father and party head Sharad Pawar who was treated for cancer.
K C Venugopal (Cong) said “we are ashamed of that statement” and sought to know when the government would notify the rules it has put on hold after the panel’s interim report tabled in the House in March.
Rejecting claims that ‘beedi’ smoking was less harmful than smoking cigarette, Nadda said, “Most clinical and epidemiological studies from India demonstrate that beedi smoking is at least as hazardous as cigarette smoking in causing different lung disease.”
Quoting an ICMR study, he said the risk of diseases attributable to tobacco use was 78 per cent for heart stroke, 65.6 per cent for tuberculosis, 85.2 for ischemis heart disease, 43 for esophageal cancer, 38 for oral cancer and 16 per cent for lung cancer. “Global data show cancers in certain anatomical sites such as kidney, liver and pancreas and myeloid leukaemia have been associated with the use of tobacco,” the Minister said.
BJP MP Prahlad Patel also urged the government to take care of the interests of beedi workers whose livelihood was likely to be affected by the move to reduce tobacco consumption. (Source- www.newsroompost.com)