Public health advocates and social activists are upset with
a statement by a politician that we should study the health effects of tobacco
on Indian population before making policies against its use.
The worse blow is that the statement is part of a report
submitted by Dilip Gandhi, an MP from Ahmednagar to the union health ministry.
Gandhi is the chairman of the committee on subordinate legislation that the pictorial
warning covering 85% of the packages of tobacco products as opposed to the
The committee has recommended that a medical board should
not consider going ahead with the decision before examining the health effects
of tobacco on Indian population. The activists, who have long been making the
demand for these graphics, want the ministry to supersede the recommendations
of the committee as several indigenous studies are already available.
"It is shocking that a senior MP is so poorly informed about the facts
pertaining to harmful effects of tobacco. Industry all over the world has
admitted that their product is harmful, therefore they agreed to adopt pack
warning as part of their manufacturer liability. In fact, tobacco is the only
consumer product that kills every third consumer," said Dr Pankaj
Chaturvedi, head and neck surgeon from Tata Memorial Hospital and an
Dean of city's Government Dental College Dr Vinay Hazarey said that 85%
pictorial warning is an internationally accepted practice. "It has already
proven effective in other countries. It is also a provision under the Cigarette
and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003, which still awaits total
compliance," he said.