Ten medical associations and 453 doctors from across the country, including those from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai and AIIMS, in Delhi, have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, protesting against a recent Karnataka High Court order reversing 85 per cent pictorial warnings on tobacco packets, in force since April 2016.
“As doctors who see these cases on a daily basis, we are horrified that the court has used this view to strike down such an effective rule,” their letter states. “We are writing to you to prevent this from taking effect. Tobacco is an epidemic, which is killing 10 lac Indians every year. It is the single most preventable cause of death. Amongst 26.7 crore tobacco users in India, one-third will die a premature death.
“Over 5,500 children in India initiate tobacco every day. By the time they realise the fatal effects of tobacco, these children have become addicts.” The letter states: “Tobacco is literally a product that is producing millions of widows, orphans and bereaved parents. While India is celebrating the New Year, lacs of families will be affected by this reversal bringing grief and financial ruin.”
It has been signed by representatives of the association including Indian Medical Association, Indian Dental Association, Indian Society of Oncology and Foundation for head and Neck Oncology. It cited the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017 findings to prove the success of the warnings. “The percentage of people thinking of quitting after seeing these warnings rose from 38 % to 62.1% for cigarettes, from 29.3% to 54% for bidis and from 34% to 46% for chewing tobacco,” the letter said.