Experts ask for ban on Gutka

Gutka causes cancer, public health experts and doctors file finding to health ministry

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Sonal Matharu | February 11, 2011



The expert group formed by the health ministry to look into the harmful effects of gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco has submitted its report stating that gutka causes cancer and that it should be banned, said one of the group members. 

“We submitted our report four days back to the health ministry under which we have given a clear message that consumption of gutka causes cancer,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate professor, department of surgical oncolgy, Tata Memorial hospital, Mumbai. Dr Pankaj is one of the members of the expert group. This report will be submitted to the supreme court before March 9, the next hearing, once it gets a go ahead by the ministry. 

“The court had instructed the health ministry to file a response on the health impact of gutka when the case on banning plastic pouches for gutka packaging was on. The ministry assigned the national institute of health and family welfare (NIHFW) and a government testing lab in Ghaziabad to submit a detailed report on the same. Their findings will be submitted by the health ministry in the supreme court once we are sure of the quality of the report. We do not want to submit a report which is questioned later,” said K Desiraju, additional secretary, health ministry. 

Dr Chaturvedi added that the report is based on scientific research which was compiled by the team of 12 doctors and public health workers working in the field. “The testing of gutka available in the market will be done by the Ghaziabad lab. We have compiled our report on the old lab reports we had,” he added. 

In India, 34.6 percent adults consume some form of tobacco and 25.9 percent are addicted to smokeless tobacco, which is one of the leading causes of oral cancer. The Voluntary Health Organisation of India (VHAI), a NGO, along with other associates, organised a meet on Friday where cancer patients survivors participated and narrated their fight with the killer disease. They stressed on a complete ban on gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco and better implementation of existing laws against tobacco abuse.  

 

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