Tobacco controversy: PM Modi seeks report from health ministry

GN Bureau | April 4, 2015


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Signaling the rethink over the tobacco panel that suggested cessation of pictorial warning on tobacco products, prime minister Narendra Modi has asked health minister JP Nadda to appoint a high-level committee to study the issue and submit a report.

This comes after three BJP MPs made controversial remarks over tobacco products, one of them even extends to saying that there is no Indian study that links tobacco with cancer.

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During the opening day of BJP’s national executive meeting, PM Modi asked the health minister to explain the background of the controversy. The high-level committee would make recommendations for the government to act on.

Earlier, when Dr Harsh Vardhan was the health minister, the notification about increasing the size of the pictorial warning from 40 percent to 85 percent was issued.

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However, the panel led by BJP MP Dilip Gandhi had recommended that the decision to increase the size of pictorial warning be kept in abeyance.

Another BJP MP Shyam Charan Gupta, questioned “Why cannot doctors explain why chain smokers do not get cancer?" and maintained that "Sugar is also harmful and causes diabetes, but no one can stop that” in his defense of the trade in tobacco products.
Gupta owns the 350-crore Shyam Group of Industries of which Shyam Bidi Works is an integral and vital part of 11 ventures owned by the group.

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