Days after he made comments questioning the link between tobacco consumption and cancer, leaders of a tobbaco products traders’ association felicitated BJP MP Dilip Gandhi for taking a “sympathetic view” of their profession. The MP from Ahmednagar is the chairperson of a parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation pertaining to tobacco.
Speaking at a function in his constituency, Gandhi had reportedly said there had been no Indian study that linked tobacco with cancer. He had also said tobacco actually “improves digestion”.
A delegation of representatives from the Pune Paan Association and the Maharashtra Paan Vyapari Mahasangh paid a visit to Gandhi at his residence in Ahmednagar and felicitated him on Saturday.
Talking to The Indian Express, Sharad More, executive president of the Maharashtra Paan Vyapari Mahasangh, said: “It has now been almost two years since the Maharashtra government banned manufacturing and sale of tobacco products in the state. This has badly affected the lives of tobacco and paan sellers. We have been raising this issue with various government functionaries, including the chief minister and various Union ministers, but nobody listened to us. Chewing of tobacco is an age-old tradition. It’s for the first time that a public representative of his stature has come out in support of our cause and our fight to livelihood. After we read about it in the papers, we decided to felicitate him.”
As per More, there are as many as 12 lakh people who depend on the sale of tobbacco and other products to earn their livelihood. In Pune city alone, he said, there were over 5,500 paan shops.
“It was a simple gesture on our part to thank him. Many people have taken position against tobacco sale while they are mum on sale of cigarettes. There are a number of studies which show that smoking cigarettes causes more harm than chewing tobacco as consumption of burnt tobacco causes much more adverse effect on lungs and other organs. We have been trying to tell these things to many but only Dilip Gandhi seems to have shown an open mind to understand it,” said More.
He said his association would soon try to take another appointment of Gandhi and make a presentation before him against the tobacco ban.
Despite several efforts Gandhi could not be reached for a comments.