How many more deaths before we ban tobacco? Rahul writes to Sonia
This emotional letter was written by one of our 38 year mouth cancer patient named Rahul Bharadwaj of New Delhi to the Prime Minister / President / Health Minister / Sonia Gandhi / National Human Rights Commission of India on 30th May 2011
Dear Sir / Madam
Tomorrow is the World No tobacco Day and no one, except people like me, would understand the significance of this day. Till last year I did not even know when does WNTD come let alone its relevance. My life completely changed 4 months back when I was diagnosed with an advanced mouth cancer that was a direct result of my habit of gutka/pan masala chewing. Like my several college friends, I started taking one rupee gutka pouches that were sold just outside my college as mouth fresheners. Those days, little did I know that I am buying death and disability in one rupee. By the time the current text warnings came, I was heavily addicted and could not leave it despite threats by my wife and daughter.
I represent lakhs of youth in India who are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year and millions who are languishing because of their habit. I have seen death from very close quarter and no one can understand my pain. I had toxic chemotherapy, I had deforming surgery and painful Radiotherapy. Despite all this, I am still not sure if I will live long enough to be for my daughter’s next birthday. Me and wife haven’t slept for last many months because we are afraid of scary nightmares. My daughter still cannot come to terms with her father having deformities and disabilities. My mother’s eyes are still wet and lips are constant praying for my life. Professionally, I am not the same aggressive person because of the reduced stamina and difficulty in speaking. I live with constant fear of re-occurrence of disease….. the slightest of symptoms panic me. All because of Gutka/pan Masala!
Now I cannot bear the sight of this killer product being sold every 10 meters especially near the schools. I get very disturbed when I see others, especially teens, chewing it. I feel disgusted when I see them being advertised and glamorized. We all know tobacco kills half of its consumers prematurely. We all do not want our children and beloved to use this product. We all know that there is no use whatsoever of tobacco except causing deaths and disability. Why do we still continue to allow this Industry a legal status? Is it justifiable to allow killing of I million Indians (mainly young) every year for earning few thousand crores?
This letter was released to the media and it was widely covered –
Note – Rahul never got appointment from anyone to whom he wrote. He never got any reply too.