Govt will persuade farmers against growing tobacco: Khader

Govt will persuade farmers against growing tobacco: Khader

 The State government will try persuading farmers against growing tobacco and instead get them to focus on alternative commercial crops to ensure their livelihood, while fighting tobacco use by people, Health Minister U T Khader said on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference featuring doctors from a number of hospitals who had gathered to support World No Tobacco Day, Khader said he would first apprise the chief minister and based on consensus would persuade farmers to take up alternative cropping.

“It is not easy to ask farmers to give up cultivating tobacco crop. They are doing it as part of their livelihood. We cannot ask them to change overnight and it won’t happen either. A plan can be put up to phase out tobacco over a period of 10 years by gradually giving them alternative commercial crops which would safeguard their livelihood. I will discuss the matter with horticulture and agriculture departments as well as the chief minister to come out with some sort of a workable plan. This change is going to be over a period of 15 years for which we should set the ball in motion now,” Khader said.

The doctors gathered there expressed apprehension that tobacco lobby groups would oppose the removal of tobacco from agriculture. Khader said he would act specifically against these very groups and if the alternative crop becomes commercially viable, then the long-term removal of tobacco cultivation could be ensured.

Doctors from Manipal, HCG, Narayana Hrudayalaya and Kamini Rao hospitals were present at the press meet to express their solidarity on the movement against tobacco. They had invited the health minister to mark the World No Tobacco Day falling on Sunday.

Throat cancer survivor Nalini Satyanarayan spoke about her experience. “I have suffered from the harmful effects of tobacco consumption. Even passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. I have gone through the ordeal and have come out successful.”

Dr B S Ajai Kumar, an oncologist, said their effort was to bring together doctors, cancer sufferers, survivors and citizens in the fight against smoking. “A commercial product with numerous health hazards should be stopped .”

 Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 20 per cent deaths per year in the country and children account for more than 25 per cent of these deaths. Second-hand smoking causes 50,000 deaths annually.

 It leads to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, said G G Shetty, a cardiologist. Infertility specialist Dr Kamini Rao explained the harmful effects of smoking.
“Incidence of impotence is 85 per cent higher in male smokers. Tobacco use is a significant factor for miscarriages among pregnant smokers.”

Protest march

Volunteers from HCG hospital along with cancer survivors on Saturday organised a silent protest and launched a campaign—Tobacco Kills—in front of  cigarette shops which are violating the rule of selling tobacco within 100 yards of educational institutions.

 The protests took place in Koramangala, Indiranagar, Brigade Road, Richmond Circle and Mission Road.


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