Cancer survivor writes to PM for ban on loose cigarettes

Cancer survivor writes to PM for ban on loose cigarettes

A former Customs Commissioner from Mumbai, who lost speech and a part of his tongue due to throat cancer after prolong tobacco use, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking ban loose on cigarettes, amid reports that the Centre's proposed move is likely to be put on hold.

"After having smoked cigarettes made attractive by constant advertising and inciting slogans... I was detected with throat cancer in 2008. It resulted in removal of my voice box and now I speak with the help of a prosthesis (machine).

"Eating and speaking has become a challenge. I suffered yet another cancer of the tongue in 2013 resulting in partial removal of my tongue," Deepak Kumar said in the letter.

"It can be thus well imagined that my life has become virtual hell. I never wanted any other person to have the same fate, which was the reason for my joy on learning that sale of loose cigarettes is going to be banned and loop holes in COTPA are going to be plugged by amendment," he said.

Kumar said he had filed a case in Consumer Court for compensation from the cigarette company but he lost it as he failed to produce bills for cigarettes he had purchased.

"Can you imagine any person being issued with bills for sale of loose cigarettes by the vendors. Therefore, if at all loose cigarettes are to be sold then issuance of sale bills must be made mandatory for loose as well as packets of cigarettes," the letter said.

Kumar also reminded the Prime Minister of his tweet on May 31, when he had called for a healthier and Tobacco Free India.

A Health Ministry proposal to ban sale of loose cigarettes is likely to be put on hold following objections by some MPs, including some Union ministers, and farmers associations.

Naidu told reporters later that Nadda was told not to take any "hasty" step till inter-ministerial consultations are over and until alternative crops are decided. A proposal to bring restrictions should not be brought now till the issues are resolved.

India is the second largest tobacco producer in the world and its export earns it foreign exchange over Rs 6,000 crore annually.

As regards arecanut along with betel, it was emphasised that they were integral part of Indian tradition and being used widely since ancient times in religious activities, weddings and other functions.

Naidu said Nadda assured the meeting that he will look into all issues pertaining to tobacco and arecanut growers and industry before taking any policy decision.

Nadda had told Rajya Sabha last week that his ministry has accepted recommendations of an expert panel, which was constituted to give suggestions for reducing tobacco consumption, that sale of loose cigarettes be banned and circulated a Cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultations.

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