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‘The only solution to the tobacco menace is to ban sale of gutka'

Staff Reporter
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Dangerous trend:According to the WHO, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke (passive smoking).— File PHoto
Dangerous trend:According to the WHO, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke (passive smoking).— File PHoto

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke (passive smoking).

World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31 every year. This year's theme is ‘Tobacco industry interference in policy'.

The focus

Experts say the focus of the campaign is on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry's brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) because of the serious danger it poses to public health.

To ensure stringent implementation of the ban on smoking, a group of people in Karnataka have come together under the banner ‘Voice of Tobacco Victims'.

‘Set up panel'

The group, representing people from the State who have suffered from cancers of the mouth, throat, lung and oesophagus; or heart disease or the many other lethal problems caused by tobacco in any form, is now demanding the constitution of an inter-ministerial high-powered committee headed by the Chief Minster or the Chief Secretary for tobacco control.

Riyaz Basha, Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine in Victoria Hospital, who is involved in the State's tobacco control programme, told The Hindu on Tuesday that banning gutka and all products containing tobacco was the only solution.

“Although gutka is banned in other States, it is yet to be banned in Karnataka. Consumption of tobacco products can be controlled by increasing the taxes on them,” he said.

Vishal Rao, Consultant Oncologist at H.C.G, said that banning the sale of tobacco products to minors and near educational institutions was a must. “Putting an end to point of sale and indirect advertising of tobacco products should be taken up on priority. This apart, determining strong policies and programs for tobacco control in consultation with victims of tobacco is essential,” he said.

Statistics

According to the National Population Based Cancer Registries (PBCR), in Bangalore the percentage of tongue cancer cases detected in a year are 4.3 per cent per 1 lakh population of males and 1.2 per cent per 1 lakh women.

With regards to mouth cancer, the percentage of cases detached very year is 3.3 per cent among 1 lakh men and 6.5 per cent of 1 lakh women.

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