At least 653 doctors and office-bearers of medical societies across the country have urged the Prime Minister to implement the new set of ‘pictorial warning’ against tobacco from April 1.
Doctors, cutting across specialties, have requested the PM to step in to prevent the tobacco lobby from subverting the anti-tobacco measures of the government. The letter reminds Narendra Modi of his message, posted on Facebook on May 31, 2014, ‘Let’s pledge to spread awareness on the risks of tobacco consumption and work to reduce tobacco consumption in India. Tobacco not only affects those consuming it but also people around. By saying no to tobacco, let us lay the foundation of a healthier India.’
Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, said, “The FB message of Modi shows his personal commitment for this important public health issue. Plethora of medical evidence have proven beyond doubt that tobacco is the only consumer product that has no good use, and causes disease, disability and death. We are very hopeful that he will do the best for the health of the nation.”
P C Gupta, director, Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, Navi Mumbai, said, “It is unfortunate that the Committee on Subordinate Legislation (COSL) is putting pressure to delay and dilute the notification for pictorial warning.”
Sanjay Seth, chief of operations of Voice of Tobacco Victims campaign, said, “These are some of the shocking facts against tobacco — at least 10 lakh Indians die every year because of tobacco and at least 50% cancers are attributable to tobacco. I am sure the government knows the staggering statistics and is serious about tobacco control.”
The doctors, signing the petition, said, “We are committed to this important public health issue… It is unfortunate that COSL report is ignoring health of billions for the benefit of a few.”
Dilip Acharya, chairman, National Cancer Control Committee of Indian Medical Association, said, “Large pictorial warning on tobacco packets is the most cost effective strategy to prevent youngsters from initiating its use and provokes current users to quit the habit. In a country where vast majority of users are less literate, effective pictorial warning carries tremendous value.”