After the initial hiccups of starting and stopping, the Lucknow metro seems to have finally settled down on its own. The cash register has been ringing with over 50, 000 commuters using the metro in the first two days. But the value-addition has happened the in the form of confiscated tobacco related products weighing over 20 kilograms in just two days. Apart from the jest, tobacco chewing remains a serious problem.
Chewing pan masala and gutkha is such a deep-rooted part of north Indian culture that nothing seems to keep us away from the menace of tobacco. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India report of 2009-10, one in every three persons uses tobacco products in UP. The bigger problem is that 25.3% of these are smokeless tobacco users comprising of pan masala and gutkha among others. The number of incidence cases of cancer has been on the rise from 1,328,229 in 2014 to 1,451,417 in 2016 in the country. These figures stand at 222,615 and 245,231 for 2014 and 2016 respectively in UP.
After Yogi Adityanath became chief minister of UP in March this year, he promptly banned consumption of both pan masala and gutkha in all educational institutions, hospitals and government institutions. But the moot question is whether governments are taking the easy route by simply banning the sale of such products?
Our governments also need to strike a balance between earning revenue from tobacco related products and the grievous harm it causes to society. The government claims to have earned revenue of Rs 19, 293 crore between April 2016 to January 2017. But neither has the government earmarked a portion of this money for the healthcare sector nor does it have any plans to do so. For a country where millions have practically have little access to quality and affordable healthcare, ironically India spends more on defence than the health sector.
Source: Times of India