Rajasthan minister says banning tobacco 'foolish'
Rajasthan Health Minister Kali Charan Saraf has called suggestion to ban tobacco in the state as "foolish". The minister said banning tobacco would lead to massive losses in revenue, increased cases of smuggling and therefore ruled out possibility of a tobacco ban. These statements were made to media subsequent to a foreign delegation's visit which was studying Rajasthan's efforts to control tobacco consumption.
Tobacco menace in India
Tobacco use leads to death of one million Indians every year which is almost 2200 deaths daily. Cigarettes account for only 11% of overall tobacco consumption whereas 89% of tobacco consumed in India is bidis, chewing tobacco, khaini etc.
Rajasthan's crackdown on tobacco
Tobacco is a leading cause of death in the state of Rajasthan. Annually almost 50,000 deaths are attributed to consumption of tobacco that is nearly 136 deaths every day. To stamp out this menace, Rajasthan was the first Indian state to ban gutkha. However according to authorities, ban's implementation was poor and gutkha remained easily accessible to the poor.
Oral cancer patients highest in India
Anti-tobacco crusader Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi said recently that according to available data India was home to the highest number of oral cancer patients. Increasingly, tobacco use has resulted n increased cases of neck and head cancer in youth.
Political parties and activists lash out
Rajathan's Congress unit said it was unfortunate on part of a senior leader to make such statements. Dharamveer Katewa, Secretary, Indian Asthma Care Society said, "If he's talking about revenue loss, then he should know Rs.1160 crore is spent on treating diseases caused by tobacco." Pawan Singhal of 'Voice of Tobacco Victims' said banning tobacco was singularly effective in preventing head and neck cancers.