Choose Life, Not Tobacco         |         Smoking is a habit that drains your money and kills your slowly, one puff after another….         |         Smoking helps you to relax… in Death-bed         |         Smoking is injurious not only to you, but for the ones around you also… Quit before it’s late         |         Smoking Leaves an Unseen Scar, it fill your Insides with Toxins and Tar         |         Only a fool would put his lips, at the other end of a burning fie.         |         Irony is, Tobacco companies kill their Best Customers.         |         You’re a Fool, if you think smoking is cool.         |         Tar the Roads, not your lungs.         |         Be brighter, put down the lighter.         |         Put the smoke out, before it put you Out.         |         Who’s going to retire on your hard-earned dollars… You or some tobacco company executive?         |         A Friend in Deed won’t make you smoke that weed.         |         Smokers die young, be smart, don’t start.         |         Every time you light up A cigarette, you are saying that your life isn’t worth Living….        |         Don’t let being on a ventilator ultimate become, the reason you eventually quit smoking. Save lungs while you can.         |         If you can’t stop smoking…. Cancer will.         |         Cigarettes are like Squirrels. They are perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire.

Category Archives: Tobacco control in India

Cancer patient’s tribute to Pehelwaan Chaap Bidi, his favourite brand!

Mohammed Azazur Rahman, an electrical engineer from Basti district of Uttar Pradesh, was forced to come to Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital last month. It turned out that he was a great fan of Pehelwan brand of bidis all his life, smoking 2-3 packs per day. Today, his disfiguring oral cancer is painfully evident, but he still can’t kick the habit! He smokes 4-5 Pehelwan bidis every day.

Mohd Azazur Rahman, an electrical engineer from Basti district of Uttar Pradesh, loves Pehelwan brand bidis.

Mohd Azazur Rahman, an electrical engineer from Basti district of Uttar Pradesh, loves Pehelwan brand bidis. He has oral cancer, but he still can’t quit the habit!


Thank you Meenajee Gutkha, our favourite gutka brand

NB Group’s Meenaji Gutka is popular in Uttar Pradesh & Orissa, as these states haven’t yet banned gutka. Gutka brands like Meenajee, Talab, Kamla Pasand & Pan Parag are freely sold. Cancer patients landing up at Tata Memorial Hospital from UP and Orissa frequently report consuming NB Group’s Meenajee Gutkha. This gutka (ready-to-eat chewing tobacco mix) is sold in variations like Meenajee Mawa Masala, Meenajee Priya Gutkha and Meenaji Mix Gutkha. Two patients with oral cancer who came to Tata Memorial from Orissa made special mention of this brand. This is their tribute to their favourite brand, which they have lovingly  consumed for many years.

Late Minister’s Wife writes to TOI & HT Editors: Gutka Ads are Misinforming Readers

3 October 2012, Mumbai: Dear Sir, In the past few days, readers of the Mumbai and Delhi editions of your esteemed dailies have been targeted by a front-page advertisement issued by the gutka manufacturers’ lobby. I would like to caution you that not only is this ad full of lies and half-truths, but also, it constitutes an in-your-face contempt of court. Through this ad, the gutka industry seeks to raise an outcry against the judgments of six High Courts, including Bombay and Delhi High Court, that have ruled in favour of the ban. Sir, are you aware that by publishing this ad, you are unwittingly made into accomplices in openly defying the judiciary? Have you considered the possibility of Contempt of Court notices being issued against your newspapers and you personally?

Let me introduce myself. I am Mrs Sumitra Pednekar, wife of Maharashtra’s former home and labour minister Satish Pednekar, who died of oral cancer last year. My husband’s illness happened because of his addiction to mawa, a mix of chewing tobacco and pan masala. In his last few months, my husband could not swallow even watery dal-khichdi. My daughters and I are still struggling to come to terms with the scars left by his extended illness and tragic demise.

 

This ad that you have been publishing appears to be a last-gasp effort of this industry to get popular support for an unjust and inhuman industry that has made many victims like myself. Below is our rebuttal to the untruths that the ad seeks to spread. We urge you to carry this rebuttal prominently to counter the misinformation spread by the ad:

1) This ad claims, “14 states in India believe that cigarettes are healthy”. This is patently untrue because cigarettes sold everywhere are forced to prominently carry a statutory pictorial warning that states that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. There is no state in India where cigarettes are considered “healthy”.

2) The ad argues, “Gutka with lesser tobacco is banned in 14 states, while cigarettes which have more tobacco are not.” This is a deeply flawed argument. Gutka and cigarette are governed by two different legislations. Gutka is a food product containing tobacco, and cigarettes are not a food product. The sale of gutka has been banned under the Food Safety Act 2006 and Food Safety Regulations, whereas cigarettes and bidis are not governed under this act, as they are not food products. They are governed by the provisions of COTPA (Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act). The gutka manufacturers have tried hard to have it classified as “not a food”, but unfortunately for them, gutka was defined as food item by Supreme Court in the Ghodavat Pan Masala case. The license for manufacturing gutka is issued by the food ministry. So, the gutka manufacturers are trying to mislead people by equating gutka (a toxic food product) with cigarette/bidi (a harmful tobacco product that cannot be eaten). Please note, there is no ban on tobacco, which is simply an agricultural crop and a naturally occurring plant material. However, there is a ban on adding this plant material into any food meant for human ingestion, because it is toxic. Food Safety Act bans adding known toxins in food.

3) The ad claims, “One pouch of gutka contains 0.2 g of tobacco, compared to 0.63 g in one cigarette”. This statistic tries to imply that less tobacco is safer. That is incorrect. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption, and it is harmful in any quantity and in all forms. This fact is well recognized by Govt. of India, which is doing a lot to minimize its consumption in all forms.

4) The ad claims, “A cigarette has 4000 chemicals, as opposed to 3000 in smokeless tobacco”. This is a meaningless statistic thrown at half-literate people to mislead them. It has no scientific basis whatsoever.

5) The ad claims, “Unlike cigarettes, gutka is not harmful for others around you”. This is an effort to obfuscate the issue of gutka ban with the second-hand smoking issue. It implies that consuming gutka is a “victimless crime”, and that the gutka-eater is not harming anyone in society. That is untrue. When a person consuming gutka suffers from oral cancer, his entire family is the sufferer; who should know this better than I? In many cases, the cheeks, upper and lower jaws of the gutka consumer are removed. Such a person is unable to eat or speak normally, and must overcome many hurdles to function as in society and in any occupation. The spouse of the gutka addict is a victim of his consumption in economic and social terms. Every gutka addicts who contracts oral cancer creates 4-5 scarred victims created in his family, for whom life will never be the same again. There is no complete cure. Even after surgery and treatment, such people and their families live in the lifelong fear of recurrence. Tata Memorial Hospital is full of such victims, queuing up for treatment and post-surgical checkups.

6) Lastly, the ad claims, “Thousands of small gutka manufacturers are being shut down by the powerful lobby of cigarette companies”. The effort here is to paint the powerful and influential gutka lobby in the colours of a victim. It is most emphatically not a victim, but the perpetrator of a crime against humanity that is at long last being curbed. The in states gutka bans are not happening because of the cigarette lobby, but because of a central legislation, namely the Food Safety Act 2006, which is simply being implemented by the states. It is happening because the government is simply doing its mandated duty to improve the nutritional status of its citizens, by preventing adulterants and toxic substances from being added into foods.

May we once again remind you that the ban on gutka has been imposed after the High Courts of Rajasthan, MP, Bihar, Kerala, Bombay and Delhi applied their mind to the gutka manufacturers’ pleas for stay on the ban, and rejected their pleas? By challenging this ban through advertisements, the gutka manufacturers are treading on extremely dangerous territory… and so are you. In the interest of your readers, and in your own interest, we would urge you not to publish such ads.

With Best Wishes,
Sumitra Satish Pednekar

Punjab is 11th State to Announce Gutka Ban

Punjab has also joined the list of States that have banned gutka as per Food Safety Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation 2011. Punjab became the 11th state to announce the ban.

This is a result of advocacy by Dr. Prahlad Duggal, a Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) Patron, with the Chief Minister and other policy makers.  Also, Dr. Duggal got the Jathedar (Leader) of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji, to sign a pledge campaigned by VoTV to protect Punjab from the perils of tobacco chewing.

More info & media coverage:

 

Victims of Tobacco & Gutka speak out in Hyderabad

Dr Vijayanand Reddy with support from the Regional Cancer Centre of Hyderabad organized a VoTV event on 22nd August 2012 in Hyderabad.

Dr Kishore Mongaluru from the World Health Organization, Mr. Pravin Prakash, FDA Commissioner attended the event.

VoTV members (cancer patients) and their families shared their agony about how gutka and pan masala usage addiction had caused oral cancer and great suffering for the entire family. FDA assured support to the VOTV patrons for the gutka ban.

News Coverage

Delhi HC directs Delhi Govt to implement smokeless tobacco products ban

In a PIL filed by Doctors for You (DFY) — a partner of Voice of Tobacco Victims — against the state of Delhi for failing to ban gutkha and other chewing tobacco products. Gutkha, zarda, pan masala, gul, bajjar and such other toxic and addictive forms of chewing tobacco are mandated to be banned by various states, as per  Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 made under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The court was pleased to pass an order directing the Delhi Government to implement Regulation 2.3.4 within two weeks.

The PIL was on board on August 22, 2012. Advocate Varun Chopra appeared on behalf of  Doctors for You.

Media Coverage:

MLA sensitization to Gutka in Karnataka

MLA sensitization & GATS Factsheet release in Karnataka

MLA sensitization & GATS Factsheet release in Karnataka

On July 24, 2012: The Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, in collaboration with the Voice of Tobacco Victims, the District Anti Tobacco cell (Bangalore Urban) and Government of Karnataka organized one hour program on MLA sensitization and GATS fact sheet release in the Hall of the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka. This was attended by the Chief Minister, Chairman of the Legislative Council, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Leader of Opposition, Govt of Karnataka, Minister of Medical Education, around 30 legislators and some bureaucrats.

Dr Vishal Rao facilitated VoTV members (cancer patients) in addressing  the gathering and explaining their suffering due to tobacco addiction. The stressed the need for governments to implement tobacco control policies and gutka ban to prevent deaths and suffering from tobacco use. The Chief Minister of Karnataka officially released the GATS fact sheet in presence of other dignitaries. He then addressed the gathering highlighting GATS (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) findings and reiterating his government’s commitment to advance tobacco control in the state.

Over 22 stories appeared in print media. Two TV Channels broadcasted the program live.

More info:

Jammu & Kashmir MLAs Sensitized to Tobacco & Gutka

Voluntary Health Association in collaboration with Voice of Tobacco Victims organized an MLA sensitization program in Srinagar on July 18, 2012. Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Speaker chaired the session and there were 40 legislative members. Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Oncologist from Tata Memorial Hospital, conducted a VoTV event. Seema Gupta from Voluntary Health Association of India gave presentation on issues of tobacco in J&K. The CM and Speaker assured support for tobacco control and to save lives in J&K.

COTPA Enforcement by Bihar Police — Workshop in Patna

State-level workshop on enforcement of COTPA by Police Nodal Officers in Patna - Bihar

State-level workshop on enforcement of COTPA by Police Nodal Officers in Patna – Bihar

In Bihar, DSP rank officers have been nominated in districts as nodal officers  to enforce the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Cancer Awareness Society (CAS) and Bihar Police Department with Voice of Tobacco Victims organized a state-level workshop at Hotel Chanakya in Patna, Bihar on 17th July 2012.

This was attended by :

  • Amarjeet Sinha (Principal Secretary – Health)
  • Abhyanand (DGP – Bihar)
  • 45 DSP rank police officers from across the state of Bihar
  • Amal Pushp (Director – Tobacco Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi)
  • Advocate Ranjit Singh (MoHFW),
  • CAS members: Sh.TP Sinha (Former DGP – Bihar), Sh. Arvind Singh (Ex- DM), Sh. Parvez Khan (IGIMS)
  • Dr. Abdul Hai (Sr. Oncologist, Hai Research Center)
  • Sanjay Seth (India – Program Director, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids)
  • Ashima Sarin (Project Director, Voice of Tobacco Victims),  VoTV members (cancer patients) present were:  Dilip Kumar, Girdhari Aggarwal, HR Kedia, Santosh Kumar, Bindeshwar Prasad.

The workshop, inaugurated by DGP Abhyanand, sensitized the police officers to  the dangers of tobacco addiction and the urgent need to enforce punitive measures of COTPA Sections 4 and 6.

Dr. VP Singh did a VoTV in the workshop. Cancer survivors told how disastrous tobacco addiction has been for them and their families. The police officers were moved hearing the sufferings of the patients.

Sh. Amal Pushp, MoHFW, hailed the initiative of Bihar Police and said that this is probably the first workshop of its kind, for controlling the menace of tobacco in the state.

Sh. Amarjeet Sinha said that students should spread the message far and wide. A monthly fest would be organized 73 thousand primary schools of the country to make children aware of the health hazards of tobacco.

News Reports:

Civil Society Lauds UP Govt for Hiking Tax on Tobacco Products

VoTV and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Health Association organized a press conference on 11th July, 2012 at UP Press Club, Lucknow. The conference was organized to appreciate the Uttar Pradesh government for sharply hiking taxes on tobacco products.  Health Minister Ahmad Hasan was present.

Ashima Sarin (Project Director, VoTV), VoTV members (Dilip Kumar, Sunil Handa), Binoy Mathew (Media Officer, VHAI), JP Sharma (Executive Director, UPVHA), Dr Sudhir Kapoor (IDA), Prof. Ramakant thanked the Government, Akhilesh Yadav, Jawed Usmani, Ahmad Hasan and others, for raising taxes on tobacco products in Uttar Pradesh.

News Report

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