On Wednesday, the head of the parliamentary panel made an observation that left many bemused. Dilip Gandhi, head of the panel on subordinate legislation, which is examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, said that there was no Indian study to prove that tobacco use caused cancer. The Bharatiya Janata Party MP’s comments arrived ahead of the Centre’s decision to defer its April 1 deadline for increasing the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products. He went onto add that all studies have come from abroad and one should examine the ‘Indian’ aspect. Whatever that means is anyone’s guess.
Numerous studies done in India have shown the debilitating effects tobacco use has on cancer. Citing the “adverse impact” on livelihood of people involved in the tobacco industry, the panel said that many had expressed great apprehension over a move to increase the size of pictorial warnings. According to a research paper by the Harvard Medical School, tobacco use alone accounts for about 40 per cent of all cancers in India.
A research paper by CS Ramesh of the Mumbai-based Tata Memorial Centre stated that, “the cost of tobacco consumption exceeds the total combined revenue and capital expenditure [budget estimates] by the government and the State on medical and public health, water supply and sanitation.” It is sad that a senior MP is so poorly informed about the facts pertaining to the harmful effects of tobacco. World over industries have admitted that their products are harmful for general consumption and therefore they agreed to adopt a pack warning as part of their legal obligations. It is time that the BJP MP made sure of his facts before passing on such comments.