Ban on smokeless tobacco imminent: Khader

 Health Minister U T Khader on Thursday said a ban on the sale of smokeless tobacco in the State was imminent.

He told reporters that the State Health department had proposed to the government to impose the ban in the interest of public health. “Chewing tobacco is one of the main reasons for mouth cancer in the country. India has the highest number of mouth cancer cases. The World Health Organisation has warned the country in this regard.

The department has taken one step forward and the ban will happen sooner or later,” he said. Khader’s comments come a day after the State Cabinet deferred taking any decision on the proposal. The ruling Congress does not want to antagonise the tobacco growers in the State. 

Asked why the government was hesitating to ban smokeless tobacco, the minister, however, said the government had to consider a number of issues before taking such a decision. The government will take an appropriate decision soon, he said.

Banning the sale of chewing or smokeless tobacco will not affect the growers in the State. Tobacco being grown in the State is of export quality. Chewing tobacco is of low quality and it is grown in other states, he said. The department has also proposed to ban the sale of loose cigarettes. A picture depicting the ill-effects of  smoking will be on the cigarette packs and not on cigarettes. So, a ban on loose cigarettes has been proposed, he pointed out.

He said the government would soon launch an air ambulance service to attend to emergency cases. The department has been holding talks with non-government organisations to start the service. 

The plan is to allow an NGO to provide the service and the government will only facilitate it, he added. 

Air ambulance

Air ambulance service will go a long way in saving lives. It took close to six hours for BGS Hospital to take a heart for transplant from Bengaluru to Chennai recently.

It would have been convenient if the State had an air ambulance, he said. Khader held a meeting with the Indian Air Force officials in this regard on Thursday. 

Khader said a two-day State-level convention of Ayush doctors would be held on November 22-23 in Mangaluru. 

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