The Largest Tobacco Consumers in Maharashtra

Maharashtrians are highly informed about the tobacco diseases, with more than 85 percent having some ideas about the cancer-stick’s killing ways. Yet the state remains one of the largest tobacco consumers in the country and every third adult is smoking addicted, declared the Global Adult Tobacco Survey’s fact sheet for Maharashtra. Statistics for the state were gathered out of the two-year-old research to highlight the worrying popularity of hookah. Over 28 percent of those investigated were addicted to the tobacco substance, found the study, which was released at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Parel, on Friday.

The idea was to seek a ban on shisha in Maharashtra. “Law is very important because the smoking habit is responsible for 50 percent of all noncommunicable illnesses in India. It is also responsible for 40 percent of deaths here,” reported TMH director Dr. Rajan Badwe.

Experts and scientists want the state government to prohibit gutka using the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which was notified for implementation from August 5, 2011. Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Bihar have already prohibited shisha.

Dr. P C Gupta of Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, which was a part of the study, explained, “It is worrying that the average age of initiation has been steadily dropped. 64.6 percent of cigarette users smoke tobacco in the first 30 minutes of waking up.”

Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, a senior doctor at TMH, added that as per the study, approximately two crore Maharashtrians aged above 15 use smokeless tobacco too. “By WHO criteria, every second tobacco user dies prematurely because of tobacco. Therefore, millions of Maharashtrians could die prematurely because of smokeless tobacco.”

He said that tobacco in general is as much a drain on the state economy as they are a health risk. “Treatment of cancer runs into lacks. This loss on health-care consumption will be to the tune of billions of rupees.”

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan however not present at the release of the investigation, argued in a letter, “The Maharashtra government is well informed of the situation and has initiated strong and important steps to control the danger of smoking tobacco. We have notified all provisions of the Cigs and Other Smoking Products Act, 2003, and are committed to take severe action against all smoking ban violators. With the proposed introduction of the shisha ban, we are looking forward to a smoke-free Maharashtra.”