The recent utterances of few of our parliamentarians for not proceeding with increment of warning picture from 45% to 85% on tobacco products from April 1, 2015, isn’t strange when we learn that the people who are tycoons of bidi industry are part of the said parliamentary committee to advise for anti-tobacco measures. What a travesty, they talk so loudly about ethics and morality in public but throw all the norms to wind and get involved knee deep into conflict of interest.
It smacks of not simply ignorance, but deeper conspiracy to promote business of tobacco industry rather than public health. It is a sad commentary that they are feigning ignorance about the ill effects of bidi smoking on human health. Though they are elected representatives of the people, for the people and by the people they behave just the opposite. Is it not known to every man in the street and corridors of health ministry that the bidi smoking causes many types of cancers, mainly lungs and/or oral cancer, produces heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, tuberculosis and debilitating lung problems?
The statement made by these so-called caretakers of democracy is not only unfortunate but also shocking and absurd. To say that there is no Indian study to prove the detrimental effects of smoking is simply hogwash. There is not only few, but many Indian studies which have conclusively proved the causal relationship of smoking and cancer.
To support the use of tobacco based on a fraction of population (4 crore) earning their livelihood is a myopic view of the entire picture. We know for definite that our country is facing tremendous financial loss and healthcare burden due to tobacco related health problems mentioned above.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the total losses in 1999 due to tobacco-related diseases were about Rs 277.6 billion, equivalent to $6.5 billion. And still our honourable MPs claiming that there is no scientific evidence to support ban on smoking and smoking products is beyond reasons.
Smoking and/or tobacco products are particularly devastating for low socio-economic people because the poor think that bidi is safer than cigarette. The fact of the matter is — bidi is more deadly than cigarette. Let us present four illustrative examples to support our contention that bidi is as dangerous as cigarette if not more:
It is thus amply clear that ignorance is not always a bliss and when feigned in matters of public health it is a curse which can’t be simply ignored. It is a disgrace and crime against the mankind.
Dr S Dwivedi, Dean/Principal;
Dr Praveen K Malik, Assistant Professor of Medicine;
Dr Mushtaque Ahmed, Lecturer in Medicine;
Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi