With 65 million gutka users, India reports 8000 new cases of oral cancer every year and not a surprise, it has been called as the 'world capital of oral cancer'. Sixteen states have already banned its consumption, but given the increasing number of cancer cases, medical associations have called upon the prime minister to ban it across the length and breadth of the country.
EVEN THOUGH gutka has been banned in more than a dozen states across the country, but people still sell and consume it illegally, raising questions on implementation of the ban by various enforcement agencies. Also, according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey, smokeless tobacco is being consumed by at least three out of four Indians and one in four is addicted to it.
When asked if there is a possibility that its usage can be curbed, Dr Amitabh Ray, an oncologist with AMRI Hospital replied that the ill-effects of tobacco should be included in our education curriculum. “The prevention over gutka and other tobacco products should be done at two levels. The first level is the primordial prevention, where the non gutka users should be told about the ill affects of gutka, not only this but it should also be included in the education system so that the children will know about the ill affects of gutka,” Dr Ray said, adding, “Whereas the second level is primary prevention, at this level the people who already use gutka should be told about its ill affects.”
A packet of gutka contains about 3095 different chemicals, out of which 28 are identified as carcinogens and cause cancer to throat, food pipe, pancreas, stomach, lungs and kidneys. Tobacco chewing is also the main reason for oral cancer, as it contains heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, copper and even lead.
Maintaining that along with gutka, all other tobacco products should be banned, Dr Ray said that government alone can't help in educating the people. “Various non-governmental organisations can also help in tackling this menace,” Dr Ray suggested.
Besides the health hazards, gutka also affects the cleanliness of the surrounding as people spit the chewed tobacco on the walls of schools, pavements and office buildings, etc. Zuhaib Ahmad, an entrepreneur said: “The ban on gutka is the need of the hour. If nothing, at least it will help to keep the offices premises, bus stands and other public places clean, which are otherwise littered with red-stains.”
The heads of twelve regional cancer centers in the country have also urged the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh to ban the smokeless tobacco products like gutka and pan masala, reported IBN LIVE.