New Delhi: Nearly 653 doctors and office bearers of medical societies across the country have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement the new set of pictorial warning on tobacco product packages from April 1, to save millions of lives.
Doctors, cutting across specialties, in a letter, requested the Prime Minister to step in to prevent “powerful tobacco lobby” from subverting the anti-tobacco measures of the government.
“The country is 136th in the qualitative ranking of the pictorial warning on tobacco products. Large pictorial warning on tobacco packets is the most cost effective strategy to prevent youngsters from initiating use and provokes current users to quit the habit,” the doctors said.
“We the doctors of India urge you to reject the recommendations of Committee on Subordinate Legislation (CoSL) that aims to promote tobacco industry rather than save innocent Indians from falling prey to this fatal addiction. Effective pictorial warnings is all about awareness and it is being wrongfully equated with ban on tobacco,” the letter said.
They quoted the Prime Minister’s Facebook post on May 31, 2014, “Let’s pledge to spread awareness on the risks of tobacco consumption & 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.”
Can indigenous ways of smoking counteract the harm being done by mass-produced cigarettes? Researching the roots of native Fijian tobacco plant ‘suki’ said to originated in Tamil Nadu and smoked in a “roll-up”, a renowned scientist from New Zealand is finding about the similar Indian cheroot.
On her visit to India, scientist Marewa Glover is accompanied by Fijian elder Setariki, who recalls learning that indentured labourers from India took tobacco plants with them to the South Pacific island country.
Looked at now, the Fijian suki appears to be processed similarly to cheroots found in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district.
Their visit was to see how similar the production process is for cheroot and ‘suki’ and to explore how people are using the cheroot today.
“In India, mass-produced cigarettes made by tobacco companies have largely displaced cheroot use which is now viewed as an old and fading practice, as is the experience in Fiji,” Glover said in a statement.
“But as taxes on tobacco have been raised, native and Indian Fijians are turning back to growing, chewing and smoking suki,” the researcher, who is seeking to understand indigenous people’s use of tobacco in order to inform the reduction of disease associated with tobacco use, added.
“The epidemic of tobacco-related diseases that cause about 7 million deaths around the world each year are mainly due to smoking the mass-produced cigarettes. Whilst smoking anything is damaging, prior to mass marketed cigarettes of tobacco companies, tobacco was harder to get and smoke and its use was often restricted using cultural rules,” she notes.
“By working with the people who are disproportionately harmed by smoking, we can move on to co-design and testing of indigenous-centric solutions to reduce smoking harm.” (IANS)