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Campaigner got no help: family (The Hindu)

Published: April 6, 2015 00:22 IST: Sunita Tomar was the face of India’s anti­tobacco campaign, but the Union government did not give her any monetary assistance for treatment, her family has said, days after she died in penury at a Gwalior hospital.“We didn’t get even one rupee from the Union government. What she got was just a ‘shreefal’ from the then Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, when she was felicitated for her campaign against cancer in August 2014,” Sunita’s husband Brijendra Singh Tomar, 35, told PTI on the phone from Bhind, his home district, in Madhya Pradesh. “I was hopeful of Centre’s assistance when she was roped in for the video campaign [in which she had shared her experience], but it did not come off,” he said. However, the family had never asked the government for any help, he added. Brijendra, a driver, said he had to repay Rs. 3.50 lakh that he had borrowed for Sunita’s treatment. And he was finding it difficult to bring up his children Dhruv, 13, and Gandharv. When Sunita’s health deteriorated, the family rushed her to a hospital in Bhind on March 31. From there, she was referred to Jayarogya Hospital in Gwalior. She died at 3.30 a.m. April 1. She had undergone a surgery for oral cancer at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai in July 2013, but the disease recurred.

As India waits for proof, 3,500 succumb to tobacco daily(Deccan Herald)

Monday 06 April 2015:Dr Monika Arora, April 6, 2015, DHNS, while globally, tobacco control measures are being strengthened and countries are adopting  targets  to  end  the tobacco epidemic,  India  has  put  its  notification  on increasing  size  of  pictorial  health  warnings  on  tobacco  product  packages  in abeyance. In  2004,  India  was  one  of  the first signatories  of  the  World  Health  Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the only public health treaty that guides  countries  to  adopt  evidence­based measures  that  protect  their  citizens  from dangers of tobacco. Over time, several countries, including our neighboring countries, have overtaken India in implementing stronger tobacco control laws.On conservative estimates, India loses about 12.7 lakh people to tobacco use every year and spends over Rs 1 lakh crore on tobacco­attributable diseases. Fifty years from the US Surgeon General’s 1964 report, which recognised cigarette smoking as causal risk factor for lung cancer, the evidence base has grown remarkably. Research in India and in other parts of the world has well established that smoking in any form causes different kinds  of  cancer,  heart  diseases,  respiratory  diseases  and  a  pack  of  other  diseases. Tobacco use in any form is harmful and deadly. One billion people are expected to die due to tobacco related diseases by the end of the 21st century and most of these deaths will occur in developing countries like India.These  estimates  sound  off  an  alarming  siren  for  increasing  awareness  on  the  health risks  of  tobacco  use.  Graphic  health  warnings are  recognised  globally  as  effective strategy to warn people against the dangers of tobacco use. These warnings provide strong public health benefit by educating users about the harms of the habit and motivate them to quit. Every  time  a  tobacco  user  pulls  out  a  pack,  he  or  she  is  reminded  of  its  deadly consequences.  These  warnings  also  serve  to protect  adolescents,  who  are  lured  by attractive packaging. In short, larger warnings elicit more negative perceptions about the packs and tobacco use, in general.A  recent international  report  ranks  India  at  an  abysmal  136th  position  among  198 countries in pack warnings. India’s dismal performance on this report can be attributed to small pictorial health warnings covering only 40 per cent of one side of the pack, with which India is unable to fulfill even its minimum required mandate under the FCTC.