Thiruvananthapuram, May 20 UNI | 2 months ago

More proactive interventions are called for to bring down tobacco use in Kerala, Assembly Speaker G Karthikeyan said today.

In a meeting with tobacco use victims brought together by the Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) campaign, the Speaker assured all support in bringing down the disease burden due to tobacco use in Kerala.

The Speaker interacted with tobacco-affected cancer patients and gave a patient hearing to their narratives.

The Director of the Regional Cancer Centre and Chairman - VoTV Kerala Dr Paul Sebastian, who led the interaction between the Speaker and tobacco use victims, briefed about the negative public health impact in the state from tobacco use.

"Over 40 per cent of the 1.5 lakh patients coming to the RCC every year suffer from cancers due to the use of tobacco products. Painfully, the incidence of tobacco related disease has gone up among youngsters as well," he added.

Dr Sebastian said this public health malady affecting Kerala can be averted by raising tobacco taxes. He pointed out that the Rajasthan example, which by raising taxes to 65 per cent, has reduced consumption, saved precious lives besides bringing in additional revenues to the exchequer. It was also pointed out to the Hon'ble Speaker that a mere 2.5 per cent increase in cigarette taxes had brought in nearly Rs 100 crore to the Kerala Government.

Dr Sebastian also emphasised the case of taxing beedis that severely affects people of poor socio-economic background in Kerala. Beedis are not taxed at all in Kerala.

Dr K R Thankappan, Prof and Head, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology here spoke about cardiac and respiratory problems seen today, particularly among youth, as a result of cigarette smoking.

The victims gave individual representations to the Speaker for raising tobacco taxes in Kerala.

(Posted on 21-05-2014)