Is BJP MP aware of killer facts about tobacco consumption in India?

GN Bureau | April 1, 2015


#bjp   #dilip gandhi   #bharatiya janata gandhi   #tobacco   #dilip gandhi tobacco  

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Dilip Gandhi has made a loaded statement that no Indian studies link tobacco to cancer. The MP in his capacity as chairman of the Lok Sabha’s committee of subordinate legislations should have had his facts verified before giving such statement.

Tragically this statement came at a time when India mourns the death of a woman, who put a face to anti-tobacco campaign. The poster woman of tobacco campaign in India, Sunita Tomar, succumbed to oral cancer on Wednesday. Two-days before her death she wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi about her dismay at the MP’s statement. She was 30 years-old and had fought a long battle against cancer before it relapsed.

But the 15-member committee, made a space for the tobacco industry without speaking to health experts before making such claims.

Here are a few facts and figures the BJP MP should have checked before putting his claim:
 

  • In India, nearly one million people die every year due to tobacco caused diseases and is a leading cause of premature deaths in the country.
  • A majority of the cardiovascular diseases, cancers and chronic lung diseases are directly attribute able to tobacco consumption.
  • Almost 40 percent of tuberculosis deaths in the country are because of  tobacco smoking.
  • India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products and third largest producer of tobacco in the world.
  • A health cost study in India revealed that the direct and indirect costs of the three major tobacco-related diseases, namely cancer, coronary artery disease (CAD) and chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), exceeded the total combined revenue and capital expenditure by the centre and the states on medical and public health, water supply and sanitation.
  • Nearly half of cancers among males and one-fourth of cancers among females are tobacco related.
     
  • A study from rural India estimated the relative risk of death due to tobacco use to be 40 to 80 percent higher for any type of tobacco use; 50 to 60 percent higher for smoking and 90 percent higher for reverse smoking; and 15 to 30 percent higher for use of chewing tobacco in males and females respectively and 40 percent higher for chewing tobacco and smoking combined.
  • An urban study in Mumbai found that the relative risk of dying was more than 50 percent higher for smokers and about 15 percent higher for users of smokeless tobacco products. An urban case-control study in Chennai found that the relative risk of dying for smokers was slightly higher than two-fold.
     
  • There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
  • WHO estimates that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year across the globe. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.


(Source: Global Adult Tobacco Survey, World Health Organisation and  16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health)

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