Citizens' Issues
Need to step up fight against smokeless killer

The prestigious scientific journal Lancet has placed India at the second position -next to China - in terms of those consuming smokeless tobacco

 

Wrapped inside betel leaves and placed in the corner of the mouth, chewing tobacco has been a practice in India for centuries.
 
While there is certainly an increased awareness in terms of the harmful effects this could have on health, the medical fraternity is very much concerned about the growing number of cancerous lesions in the mouth.
 
The prestigious scientific journal Lancet has placed India at the second position -next to China - in terms of those consuming smokeless tobacco.
 
Various forms of loose-leaf chewed tobacco are commonly consumed in the Indian subcontinent. Smokeless tobacco use is particularly prevalent in India, Bangladesh and among women in Thailand.
 
What is less known to most people in India is that more than 4,000 different chemicals have been found in tobacco and over 60 of these chemicals are known carcinogens.
 
Almost 30 percent of the Indian population older than age 15 use some form of tobacco. Men use more smoked tobacco while women are more likely to use the chewed variety.
 
In case of paan with tobacco, the main ingredients of paan are the betel leaf, areca nut (supari), slaked lime (chuna), and catechu (katha).
 
Sweets and other condiments are also added for flavour. The varieties of paan are named for the different strengths of tobacco in it. It is a myth that chewing tobacco with betel leaf is not harmful.
 
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has rightly established that people who chew both the betel leaf and the areca nut along with tobacco have a higher risk of damaging their gums and having cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach.
 
Khaini is yet another common chewing tobacco seen mostly among the women folk. Dried tobacco leaves are crushed and mixed with slaked lime and chewed as a quid. The practice of keeping the quid in the mouth between the cheeks and gums causes most cancers of the gums - the most common form of mouth cancer in India.
 
Let us pause and take a look at a case study here.
 
Raghav Sharma (name changed) was diagnosed with stage IV mouth cancer. A road-side vendor in Delhi, he earned his living out of selling vegetables.
 
Sharma underwent surgery and had to get the central portion of his lower jaw removed. For this, he gave away all that he had to save himself.
 
Now, the same man has knocked the door of the hospital again with two marble-sized yellowish lumps in his gums.
 
The ugly dreadful cancer is back again with a vengeance and the doctors have no other option but to go for a second surgery.
 
There is an urgent need for increasing awareness on the ill effects of chewing tobacco. Interestingly, there are misconceptions that tobacco has germicidal compositions that could cleanse the teeth.
 
Mishri is one of the kind which is applied on the teeth like a tooth powder. In due course, the individual gets addicted to the usage and becomes totally dependent on the product. The user also ends up damaging his teeth and gums.
 
Gudakhu, again used commonly by women, is a paste of tobacco and sugar molasses and involves direct application of tobacco to the gums, thus increasing the risk of cancer of the gums.
 
A campaign that empowers cancer survivors to tell their stories to influence policymakers and raise awareness among other tobacco users about the damaging effects of tobacco on health is the need of the hour.
 
Besides cancer of mouth, use of tobacco, in the smoke or smokeless form, may lead to other serious diseases including heart, lung, circulatory diseases and stroke.
 
Once diagnosed with cancer, the genetic damage is irreversible.
 

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Heat wave continues to sweep across India, toll over 1,700

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the heat wave conditions will continue at few places in Odisha, Vidarbha, Jharkhand and Telangana

 

The searing heat wave continued unabated on Thursday in many parts of India, claiming another 414 lives in Andhra and Telangana alone to take the toll above 1,700 while rains brought relief in some states, officials said.
 
Andhra Pradesh reported 313 more deaths due to sunstroke during last 24 hours while 100 more succumbed in Telangana.
 
With this the toll in the two Telugu states rose to 1,774. While Andhra Pradesh accounted for 1,334 deaths, 440 people died in Telangana, officials said.
 
Four deaths due to sunstroke were reported from West Bengal and one from Bihar, in addition to two from New Delhi on Wednesday. According to unofficial sources, two dozen people have died in Bihar.
 
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the heat wave conditions will continue at few places in Odisha, Vidarbha, Jharkhand and Telangana and at isolated places over Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and coastal Andhra Pradesh over next two days.
 
It has also forecast rain/thunder showers at most places in the northeast and at a few places in Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
No respite from the blistering heat was in sight in Andhra and Telangana as both states sizzled with the highest temperature of 47 degrees Celsius.
 
Khammam and Nizamabad in Telangana recorded 47 degree Celsius, as did Nandigama and Ongole in Andhra Pradesh.
 
According to the Meteorological Centre in Hyderabad, though rains brought the temperature down in some parts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, severe heat wave conditions continued in the state.
 
The heat wave paralysed life in Rajasthan, which continued to reel under heat wave conditions on Thursday, with the maximum temperature hovering between 40 and 45 degrees Celsius.
 
The temperatures in some places, including state capital Jaipur was higher by 3-4 degree celsius above the average. Jaipur was hot at 44.7 degrees Celsius, four degrees above average, while Bundi and Kota were sizzling at 45.5 degrees and 45.4 degrees Celsius.
 
"The heat wave is likely to prevail in some places in Rajasthan in the next 24 hours. Jaipur will see partly cloudy skies with the possibility of a dust storm. The maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 44 degrees and 28 degrees respectively in Jaipur in next 24 hours," a weather department official told IANS.
 
The hills of Himachal Pradesh experienced warm weather, with Una town recording a high of 43.2 degrees Celsius.
 
"Temperatures soared due to the dry spell. Shimla recorded a maximum temperature of 28.5 degrees Celsius, four degrees above normal (average) for this time of the year," a meteorological department official told IANS.
 
Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, recorded 32.6 degrees Celsius, five notches above average.
 
It was a hot and dry Thursday in the national capital, with the maximum temperature recorded at 41.1 degrees Celsius, a notch above average. The met office forecast similar conditions on Friday, with the sky likely to be clear through the day and the maximum and the minimum likely to hover around 41 degree and 27 degree Celsius.
 
Heat wave conditions continued in Bihar with the mercury touching 41.7 degree Celsius in Gaya district, the hottest place in the state and Patna recording 39 degree Celsius, met officials said in Patna.
 
"People will have to wait for a few more days to get any respite from the prevailing severe heatwave," said met office director A.K. Sen.
 
Vayas ji, the principal secretary of the state disaster management department told IANS that heat wave has claimed one life so far. However, unofficial reports received from different parts of state said that at least two dozen people have died in the last one week due to the heat.
 
Uttar Pradesh also continued to reel under the intense heat with the met office promising no immediate relief from the scorcher.
 
The weather office in Lucknow said maximum temperatures across the state were expected to rise further during the next 24 hours to Friday evening.
 
"Bundelkhand region and parts of western UP will see as much as three degrees rise in day temperatures," said meteorological department director J.P. Gupta
 
Slight relief was experienced from the heat wave conditions in certain parts of Maharashtra's Vidarbha and Marathwada regions though high temperatures ruled the roost in most areas on Thursday.
 
Chandrapur recorded the highest temperature of 47 degrees Celsius and Nagpur was second at 46 degrees, though the state has no officially recorded heat-wave related casualties.
 
Wardha, Akola and Parbhani recorded 45 degrees - a degree higher than Wednesday -while Yavatmal stood at 44 degrees on Thursday.
 
Intermittent drizzle and strong winds overnight brought welcome relief to Bhopal and other places in Madhya Pradesh which had been reeling under blistering conditions.
 
The residents of Bengaluru experienced pleasant weather on Thursday, while other parts of Karnataka braved a heat wave - the mercury at 42.5 degrees Celsius in Kalaburgi, 41.5 degrees in Bijapur and 42.4 degrees in Raichur, officials said.
 

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Gujjars call off agitation as Rajasthan agrees to quota
The Gujjar community, whose members have been squatting on railway tracks and blocking road traffic in Rajasthan demanding five percent reservation in education and government jobs, on Thursday called off their agitation as the state government agreed to their demand, a minister said.
 
"The Rajasthan government will bring a new reservation bill in the next session of the assembly to be held soon. We will see that this time it does not fall to any legal hurdle," said Medical and Health Minister Rajendra Rathore.
 
"We will try to have this five percent reservation listed under the ninth schedule of the constitution," he said.
 
The agreement was reached after a four-hour-long meeting between Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti leader Col. (retd) Kirori Singh Bainsla and the state government's three-member ministerial team - comprising Rathore, Social Welfare Minister Arun Chaturvedi and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Hem Singh Bhadana.
 
After the meeting, Bainsla said: "We have decided to call off our agitation. I am now going to Pilu Ka Pura, and will make a formal announcement there."
 
"I hope the government adheres to the agreement," he said.
 
The Gujjars were demanding, among others, five percent reservation in state government jobs under the special backward class category and that too according to them in the maximum permissible limit of 50 percent reservation.
 
The agitating Gujjars have been squatting on railway tracks in Pilu Ka Pura near Bayana town since May 21. The agitation has affected the movement of trains, including that on Delhi-Mumbai sector, and movement of vehicles on the Jaipur-Agra highway.
 
On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court had directed the state government to remove the protesting Gujjars from railway tracks and clear blockades on roads.

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