After his party colleague and Allahabad MP Shyama Charan Gupta raked up a controversy by saying that beedis do not cause cancer, Ram Prasad Sharma, BJP Lok Sabha member from Assam on Friday said the Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation must first get “foolproof medical and/or scientific evidence based on thorough research” that tobacco causes cancer, before actually okaying increase of the size of health warning on beedi and cigarette packets.
“Yes, all of us know that tobacco causes cancer. But is there foolproof medical and/or scientific evidence based on thorough research to substantiate this?
There are people who smoke 100 cigarettes a day and may not get cancer, while a non-smoker can also die of cancer,” Sharma said on Friday.
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Lok Sabha member from Tezpur, he is also in the Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
Sharma said the Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation had recently discussed the issue of implementing the amendment to the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008, by which health warning space on covers of all tobacco products has been sought to be increased from the existing 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the total space. The amendment was supposed to come into force with effect from April 1.
“We found that there is no foolproof evidence that tobacco causes cancer. There is no report of any medical and/or scientific research with the Standing Committee about the cancer-causing qualities of tobacco. Suppose tomorrow someone comes out with scientific or medical research that tobacco does not cause cancer, then what will the Standing Committee do?” he asked.
Sharma however clarified that he had never claimed that tobacco does not cause cancer. “I have not claimed that tobacco does not cause cancer. It is like a murder case.
Even if 100 persons go and tell the court of law that a person had committed a murder, the court will decide only on the basis of evidence, forensic reports and eye-witness reports. In this case (of tobacco) it is a purely scientific matter, and as such it requires solid scientific and medical research proving that tobacco causes cancer. Till then it will not be proper to go ahead with the amendment to the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules,” Sharma, himself a lawyer of repute, told The Indian Express.