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Govt. to crack down on tobacco chewing
Published on 5 Apr. 2011 12:58 AM IST
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It comes in small pouches, is easy to slip into the pocket and cheap - and also a killer. Chewing tobacco, or gutkha, is a known cause of oral cancer in India which has the largest recorded incidence of the disease. The government is now seriously planning to crack down on chewing tobacco use.
The health ministry is planning measures to curb the use of chewing tobacco - the most widespread form of tobacco use in India and will soon call a meeting of state ministers to discuss the issue of “smokeless tobacco”, an official said Monday.
Talking to reporters after a meeting on chewing tobacco, gutka, paan masala etc. - the health ministry’s Additional Secretary Keshav Desiraju said that consultations will be carried out to formulate policies to inform the people on the ill-effects of tobacco.
“Most of our work so far has focused on smoking. The users of smokeless tobacco are usually from the weakest sections of the society, and different approach is needed to reach them,” he said.
“We will discuss it with all state governments. Smokeless tobacco is being increasingly used in university campuses and urban areas,” he said.
India has the world’s highest incidence of mouth cancer in the world according to a study by the British Journal of Cancer.
“The risk of oral cancer is up to 50 times greater for the person who chews tobacco. It also increases the risk of throat and pharynx cancer,” the European Commission has said.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 206 million people chew tobacco in India and of these 42.3 percent are also cigarette users.
According to Public Health Foundation of India president K. Srinath Reddy, the use of smokeless tobacco is increasing among youth and women.
“There is a social stigma related to use of cigarettes by women and youth, so they find it convenient to use smokeless tobacco. It also comes in small pouches, which can be easily hidden. Being economic is the factor which makes it popular among the economically weaker sections,” Reddy said.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey, out of 35 percent adults using tobacco in India, 26 percent adults use chewing tobacco in some form or another.
Studies have shown that 12.5 percent of all teenagers use tobacco in some form or another. It has been found responsible for 50 percent of all cancers in men and 25 percent of all cancers in women, besides being responsible for 90 percent of all oral cancers, according to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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