Sorry to hear pro-tobacco comments: Health minister

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 12 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Addressing doctors at the cancer treatment hub of Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel on Saturday, Union health minister J P Nadda distanced himself from the recent pro-tobacco comments made by his party colleagues.

He also indicated the introduction of strong anti-tobacco messages at schools.

"We are sorry to hear statements that tobacco does not lead to cancer, this shows the (poor) awareness level," he told a packed hall of doctors at the first-ever graduation day ceremony of super specialists at Tata Memorial Hospital. BJP MPs Dilip Gandhi and Ram Prasad Sarmah recently kicked up a controversy by saying that there was no link between cancer and smoking.

On Saturday morning, Nadda reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's line that the government is committed to reduce consumption of tobacco. He said that if the level of awareness about tobacco's link to cancer was low among his colleagues then it's indicative of the level of awareness among the community.

"We will look at various strategies to reduce the use of tobacco. Pictorial warning is only one of the strategies," said Nadda. The government had drawn flak for its failure to meet the deadline for bigger pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.

He indicated that the government would work out strategies targeting schoolchildren. "We have to catch them young. We want the Tata Memorial Hospital to work out a pictorial broadsheet warning that can be shown to children about the ill-effects of tobacco," he said. He said people should realize that despite being healthy at 25 years of age, smoking could cause bad heart at 35.

The minister also said that he had asked Tata Memorial Hospital to work out an effective and affordable cancer-screening programme. "India has 11 lakh of cancer patients at any given time. Over 5 lakh die every year. By innovation, we have to try and save and provide service to these patients. It is here that Tata Memorial Hospital is a pioneer. They have been doing commendable work in this regard," he said.

As far as non-communicable diseases, Nadda stated that it is a big challenge not only before the government but the health fraternity as a whole. He stated that Tata Memorial Hospital director Dr R A Badwe had suggested the setting up of a national cancer grid that would help provide better cancer facility to Indians closer to their homes.

Tata Memorial centre's academic dean Dr K S Sharma said 60% of qualified and trained human resource in oncology is being provided by them in India.,Smoking,health,cigarette,Cancer

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