Victims of Tobacco & Gutka speak out at Delhi on 11th Feb 2011

An event conceived by Voice of Tobacco Victims, hosted by ACT India, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health,
Salaam Bombay Foundation and Voluntary Health Association of India

Date: 11th February, 2011
Venue: Constitutional Club Rafi Marg, New Delhi

Action Council Against Tobacco (ACT India), Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Salaam Bombay Foundation and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), facilitated Voices of Victims (VoV) a program conceptualized by cancer victims who gathered together from across the country, to promote greater awareness about the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco use. These victims and their families shared their stories and experiences of trauma, pain and suffering as well as voiced their appeal for stronger enforcement of tobacco control laws.

Testimonies from Ashish Kumar Jain, about surviving with half a jaw; from Prof Bhaduria on talking through a voice box; from Mrs Dubey about the challenges in coping with the expenses of her husband’s treatment and daughter’s education and marriage;  from 34 old Sachin coming to terms with his half jaw; along with numerous others, overwhelmed the audience. The victims and their families, while sharing their painful experiences appealed to the guests to “let not what has happened to us, happen to any more people.” All of them urged the government to take stringent actions against gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco and expressed their solidarity in the fight to save others from the menace of gutka.

The event was well attended by policy makers, tobacco control advocates; cancer support groups, media and dignitaries like Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister and Shri Dinesh Trivedi, State Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Shri K.Desiraju, Addl. Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India. Other key participants were Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi Associate Professor, Head and Neck Department Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and Dr. Justice K. Narayana Kurup (Formerly Judge, High Court of Kerala and Ag. Chief Justice, High Court of Madras).

Shri K. Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare dwelt upon many acts and legislations that have been passed in the parliament to curb this menace. And stressed the importance of successful implementation of the legislation.

Moved by the experience, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, invited the group to organize a similar event in his home town of Kanpur and offered to take a personal interest in ensuring Kanpur Gutkha Free from that date onwards.

Shri Dinesh Trivedi highlighted that the revenue generated by the tobacco industry was much less than the money spent on health care treatment. He shared the letter he had written to Shri Sharad Pawar, enquiring about the efforts of the ministry on the ban of tobacco growing and alternative crops and alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers. He also offered to write to the I &B ministry to look into banning of surrogate advertising of tobacco products.

The event also had presentations from Mr Virendra Singh (Advisor, Indian Asthama Care Society) on emerging trends in tobacco consumption; from Dr. Justice K Narayan Kurup on the legal and judicial aspects of the gutka issue.

A panel discussion and media interaction was also held wherein the media interacted with Mr Jaiswal, Dr Virendra Singh, Dr P C Gupta and Dr  Pankaj Chaturvedi amongst others .

A total of 43 media persons from both print and electronic media were present at the programme and gave extensive coverage to the event.

VoTV evoked strong support from all those present and resulted in many wet eyes and choked throats.

Links to some news stories:
Voices of Victims”  on 11 Feb: News X news channel:

VOTV on 16th February on Doordarshan (National)


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