Barely three days after he created a controversy with his comments that there is no Indian study linking tobacco with cancer, Dilip Gandhi, BJP MP from Ahmednagar, said that tobacco actually improve digestion, according to TV channel reports.
Speaking at Adhal village in Srigonda taluk of Ahmednagar district, Gandhi reiterated on Friday, “There is no study which shows that tobacco causes cancer…there are people who have chewed tobacco but survived for 100 years.”
Gandhi, according to news channels, added, “Tobacco actually improves digestion.”
Gandhi, head of parliamentary panel on subordinate legislation examining the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, previously claimed that studies claiming tobacco causes cancer have come from abroad.
Studies suggest over a million die in India from tobacco-related illnesses every year, most of which are cancers of the mouth and lungs, and graphic warnings – such as photographs of tumours – are seen as possible deterrents. Tobacco will account for 13% of all deaths in India by 2020.
But, the parliamentary committee led by Gandhi said the impact of the move, which needed 85% of the packaging on products used for graphic warnings, on the industry needs to be looked at before it can be implemented.
“There is no Indian survey report to prove that tobacco consumption leads to cancer. All studies are done abroad… We have to study the Indian context, as four crore people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are dependent on bidi-making through Tendupatta,” Gandhi said.
In his letter to health minister JP Nadda, Gandhi recommended that the labeling be put off as its impact on tobacco workers and manufacturers and revenue needed to be examined.