In a statement issued by Tobacco Free Kerala, Paul Sebastian, Director, Regional Cancer Centre, was quoted as saying that none other than the World Health Organisation had categorically said that tobacco causes cancer. Independent research conducted by Indian organisations has only proved this further, he said. RCC had conducted a study on cancer risk in Karunagappally, known for high background radiation from thorium-containing monazite sand, he said. However, the study which covered 65,829 men, revealed an elevated lung cancer risk among bidi smokers, he said.
As per a notification issued on October 15, 2014, 85% of all tobacco product packs are to carry pictorial warnings. The medical community in Kerala congratulated the Prime Minister for implementing it.V P Gangadharan, an oncologist at a private hospital in Kochi was also quoted in the statement. He said: “Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease, and strategies such as large pictorial warnings can save a million precious lives every year.”
Citing a 2014 report of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation, he added that tobacco use not only impairs health of individuals; it also badly affects the health of the economy.
RCC Founder-Director M Krishnan Nair said that reports of the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) had a dedicated chapter on tobacco-related cancers. The 2011 report shows 45.4 per cent tobacco-related cancers among males and 16.8 per cent among females in India, he said. Baseless statements that tobacco does not cause cancer cannot take away established scientific facts and collective efforts of the scientific and medical fraternity, he said.