Azad trains gun on gutka industry

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad says chewing tobacco must be brought under control in fighting cancer


Sonal Matharu | April 8, 2010

 The chewing tobacco or the gutka industry must be regulated alongside maintaining stringent checks on the sale and consumption of cigarettes in the country to check tobacco related diseases, said Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at the World Health day celebration here at All India institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday.

“We work day and night to check the growing tobacco industry, to get new pictorial warnings on the cigarette packets, but the effects of chewing tobacco can be equally harmful. We must come up with stringent measures to check the local gutka industry,” Azad said citing his own experience of consuming gutka in a betel leaf for the first and the only time in 1975.

India is the second largest consumer of tobacco in the world. Tobacco consumption, he said, is the single most important risk factor for cancer which is more prevalent in the urban areas as compared to the rural.

Speaking on the theme “urbanisation and health” for the day, Azad said that while lack of healthcare providers, non-availability of hospital beds and tertiary care facilities are more common in the rural areas, urban centres have to deal with different set of problems.

Increased risk of chronic diseases, mental and behavioral disorders and tuberculosis are some of the problems found more in the cities.

Over half of world’s population lives in cities today. In India, 28 percent of the population lives in the cities and this figure is expected to rise till 41 percent by 2020.

“People migrate to cities because there is lack of schooling in small towns and villages, infrastructure is not developed. There find better opportunities in the cities and better housing and living conditions. Migration also increases the disease burden in the urban areas,” added Azad.

Not only are people migrating from smaller towns to the cities, the size of the cities is also expanding.

“Deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution and sanitation are some of the problems related to urbanization resulting from clearing the land for developing cities,” said Azad.

Two books – ‘Health Workers’ Module on Tobacco Control’ by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) and Health of the Urban Poor: Case of a Slum in Delhi – were also released by Azad.




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