Activists seek tobacco control measures in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) Ahead of the Kerala assembly polls, a group of medical activists on Monday appealed to all political parties to include tobacco control as a public health measure in their election manifestos.

The activists — who included oncologists, cardiologists and epidemiologists — called for specific measures for tobacco control, saying tobacco was responsible for 40 percent of all cancer cases in Kerala.

During an interaction with the media, they also said that the economic burden on healthcare resources in the state due to tobacco use was Rs.1,514 crore a year, while revenue from tobacco was only Rs.315 crore.

Paul Sebastian, vice chairman of Tobacco Free Kerala, and director of the Regional Cancer Centre, said investing in tobacco control was primarily investing in public health.

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“It is an assured way of preventing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure,” he said.

A.S. Pradeep Kumar, an epidemiologist, said their request to all political parties was to promise in their election manifestos the strong and strict implementation of tobacco control law Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.

R. Jayakrishnan, associate professor at the Regional Cancer Centre, pointed out that major political parties in Assam, which is also going to the polls, have included tobacco control in their manifestos.

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