Better use of tobacco
Pledges, assurances and observations on social evils have become more frequent than ever. In our country, the combined phenomenon of a flexible administrative mechanism on the one side and the lure of employment generation and revenues on the other make health initiatives a difficult task.
A national campaign launched by an NGO – Voice of Tobacco Victims claims to have got the support of the chief ministers of 11 states. Kerala CM is one among them. The medical findings of the ill-effects of tobacco have been established long ago. But efforts to curb its various forms have been limited to statutory warnings issued illegibly in print and picture.
Tobacco as an ingredient to cause deadly, chronic, painful and expensive disease as cancer has not been in for a compulsive regulation by governments. Huge sums are routinely spent on bringing about awareness on it. Now, we have left it to the people to get educate themselves and kick the habit voluntarily. The glaring aspect is that a chunk of the lower rung population, virtually on the edge of impoverishment, is the most affected.
Cancer is becoming an increasing problem for developing countries, and issues commonly associated with poverty are making it worse, according to the US National Cancer Institute and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Infectious viral diseases such as Hepatatis B and C and HIV are said to be associated with various forms of cancer. In more developed countries, infectious diseases account for 8% of cancers, while in developing countries it is 26%.
The cost of vaccinations is unaffordable to the general public. In the developing world, smoking is responsible for 30% of cancer deaths. A WHO study says that by the year 2020, the world will post 10mn deaths and 70% of them will be from the developing countries. Interestingly, most countries, including India, do not have anti-smoking policies but have a powerful tobacco lobby.
While tobacco is the villain as far as human being is concerned, the area of alternative uses is promising. Its uses are excellent in agricultural sector. As a natural pesticide, it is in league with Neem in its effectiveness. It may turn out to be an antidote to cancer itself, if the pioneering research undertaken by the University of Cape Town brings results. The research team is working on genetically altered tobacco plants to produce vaccine against cervical cancer.
In India, the tobacco industry employs millions of people directly and indirectly and brings in top revenues to the governments as excise duty. Health comes next. The hope lies in creating value addition to tobacco as a medicine, pesticide and so on in an increased scale, so that the industry can thrive without imperiling the lives of the people.
via City Journal.