Cancer victim writes to PM for ban on tobacco products


New Delhi: A 35-year-old cancer victim has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleading with him to impose a ban on tobacco products such as gutka and cigarette.

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Rahul Bhardwaj, working with a private company, said in his letter sent Tuesday: “My life changed four months back when I was diagnosed with an advanced stage of mouth cancer that the doctors say is a result of my habit of gutka/pan masala chewing….”

Bhardwaj described his on-going agonising fight with cancer and how he was unable to eat or drink due to the ailment.

“I have sent a copy of the letter to the health minster and chairman of the human rights commission. I have gone through the trauma of seeing death from close quarters, and know how harmful the addictive product is,” Bhardwaj said.

According to a 2009 study by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India has nearly 274.9 million tobacco users – around 35 percent of the population.

“I represent the millions of youth in India. Why do we continue to allow this industry a legal status? Is it justifiable to allow killing of one million Indians every year for earning a few thousand crores (of rupees),” wrote Bhardwaj.

“I plead (with) the prime minister of this country to impose a ban on gutka, cigarette and pan masala,” said Bhardwaj who is currently undergoing chemotherapy in a Delhi-based hospital.