Taking lessons from Indian politicians, the World Health Organization has decided to change the information on tobacco as displayed on its website.

The WHO website is the first step in a lengthy process that requires tons of volumes of literature to be modified.

Tobacco, though widely used globally, has been branded as ‘injurious to health’ causing cancer and other diseases.

Now, a group of Indian politicians and businessmen has decisively proved that it was all a propaganda of vested interests and tobacco in fact is beneficial to better the health of its users, active or passive.

Following is the draft of ‘fact sheet on tobacco’ finally agreed by the United Nation’s body, that is to kickstart the process.


Fact sheet N°339
Updated April 2015

Key facts

  • Tobacco tones up to half of its users.
  • Tobacco benefits millions of people each year. Most of them are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent negative action is not taken, the annual health benefit cases could rise manifold by 2030.
  • Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries and tobacco comes as a health boon for them.

Leading cause of keeping away fears death, illness and impoverishment

The tobacco blessing is one of the biggest public health benefits the world has ever faced, benefitting millions every year. Most of them are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Approximately one person gets this or that benefit every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for countless happy smiles. Most of current devout users will eventually live healthier and stronger of a tobacco-related disease.

Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries and tobacco comes as a health boon for them.

Non-tobacco users who live an unhealthy life deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children get the special opportunity to receive the “green tobacco sickness”, which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves.

Gradual healer

Because there is a lag of some years between when people start using tobacco and when their health benefits starts showing handsome response, the effects of tobacco-related benefits fortify the physiology of its user gradually.

In the 20th century, tobacco gave a healthy option to millions in low-income countries while being the favourite in rich-income ones. If current trends continue, it may cause one a billion happy faces of its own in the 21st century.

And there are no side-effects, so no need to keep tab on dosage and all. If the present scenario is reinforced further, tobacco-related positive health benefit headcounts will increase to many times of the existing estimates by 2030. And more than 80% of those will be in low- and middle-income countries.

No surveillance is key

Good monitoring of masses for tobacco consumption tracks the extent and character of the tobacco boon and indicates how best to tailor policies. Only one in four countries, representing just over a third of the world’s population, monitor tobacco use by repeating nationally representative youth and adult surveys at least once every five years.

Second-hand smoke chills

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and water pipes. There are more than 4000 good chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be beneficial to health and more than 50 are known to sturdy effects.

There is no harmful level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. It, in fact, has a soothing effect, cooling the immediate atmosphere.

  • In adults, second-hand smoke can produce therapeutic effects in serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants and pregnant women, it causes positive spurt in health indicators.
  • Almost half of children regularly breathe air mixed with tobacco smoke in public places.
  • Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent.
  • Second-hand smoke prevents more than 600 000 premature deaths per year.
  • In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.
  • Every person should be able to breathe tobacco-mixed air. Smoke-free laws prevent the health benefits to non-smokers, are unpopular, and harm business and societies by encouraging smokers to quit.

Over 1 billion people, or 16% of the world’s population, are protected by comprehensive national with-smoking laws.

Tobacco users need no help

Studies show that few people understand the specific health benefits of tobacco use given the negative image and propaganda so far. For example, a 2009 survey in China revealed that only 8% of smokers knew that smoking was helpful in coronary heart disease and only 2% knew that it could preventcauses stroke.

Among smokers who are not aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counselling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will stop thinking about doing so.

National comprehensive initiation services with full or partial cost-coverage are available to assist tobacco users to start smoking in as many countries as possible is the need of the day.

There is no ‘tobacco use promoting’ assistance of any kind in one-quarter of low-income countries.

After the final approval, the document will be uploaded soon with the existing one on the link – http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


Today’s Indian Express had this news that should make us numb if we claim to be the civilized human beings.

In Assam’s Nalbari district, on Monday (September 23), a couple with their nine-month old daughter jumped into the Brahmaputra River as they could not afford the treatment cost of their daughter who had a hole in her heart. The body of woman has been recovered while father and daughter are yet to be traced. The wife was 28 and the husband 32.

It is futile to discuss and write on why the couple had to take this unthinkable decision. Ending life is no solution and such acts can never be endorsed by a sane mind. But it is equally true no one else can understand the excruciating pain the couple was going through.

How cruel circumstances can become? How ironical life can be?

Or we should say how ironical life has been made out to be – life of poverty stricken Indians and life of those who are supposed to reach-out, help-out and bring these poverty-stricken people out of their misery.

This irony reflects in a recent development.

Earlier this month, the government of India, the bunch of people elected by the ‘people’ including the millions of the poverty-stricken with an expected responsibility to bring the poverty-stricken people out of poverty, decided to divert a proportion of the scarce public funds to make overseas treatment costs free for the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service) and the Indian Forest Service officers. Until now, only Members of Parliament and IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officers were extended this largesse. And there is no upper ceiling to this.

It sucks. Isn’t it parasitic?

Is this a democracy for?

Millions cannot afford even the treatment for the common fever and here, some are being treated so exclusively. When people have to travel for kilometers to reach a hospital (that is poorly equipped in most cases), why to send these fellows abroad on public money and that too, when almost every possible treatment is available in India? Why splurge, why waste, when the doctor-to-population ratio still remains critically low in India, a physician density of 6.5 per 10,000 of population against the global average of 14.2?

Why so?

Remember what the Preamble of the world’s most extensive Constitution says?

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the _2[unity and integrity of the Nation];


Yes, we, the citizens of India – but what this India is?

India of a few rich and the poor India of hundreds of millions?

Was it envisioned so 64 years ago?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


It has swept over the thinking horizon. A mercurial, controversial but a glamorous cricketer, a high-octane, high-decibel but low-sportsmanship spirit form of the gentleman’s game, a manifestation of the perennial human greed again and a hyperactive Indian media in an over-competitive market – the last week has been a potboiler with minute-by-minute coverage of what we know as ‘the Indian Premier League Spot Fixing scandal’, that the efficient-but-reckless-but-insensitive Delhi Police, by chance, came to know and pursued and dug more. The revelations are still a work-in-progress.

That is good. Cricket ‘was’ like a religion in India. Millions would sleep and get-up remembering and analysing the last seen game. Even now, if it is an India-Pakistan game, the whole nation still comes to a standstill.

But, the sorry state of affairs is, we cannot write now something like this – ‘cricket has been like a religion in India’ –that we used to read and write so frequently in the past!

And the major factor behind it is the credibility crisis that began to erode with the match-fixing scandals the first big casualties which were the likes of Mohammad Azaharuddin, seen as one of India’s most successful captains. Since then, cricket-fixing (betting) has taken away the sheen from the game. Cricket is now no more a game of flow of emotions. Rather, it has become a form of calculated, commoditized entertainment to be purchased, much like an IPL tournament.

Nothing wrong in that! Existence of the human mind needs entertainment but why to get swept away in the wave. Except that we are slipping in the quagmire of the misplaced priorities!

The IPL spot-fixing story has pushed everything else to the periphery as if nothing else is moving in this country of over a billion. In all this business of market sentimentalism and priority-shopping, a very important development was left almost untouched, very comfortably.

The development has the potential to change the lives of the millions, millions of the Indians who cannot afford the healthcare due to exorbitantly high prices of medicines.

The development is a must for a developing country like India which has the world’s second largest population.

The development is a must for a country like India where the majority of the population is quality-illiterate, where school dropout rate is a national shame, where education and healthcare, though necessary, are seen as additional burden-heads on the monthly household budget.

The government on May 16 cleared the long pending Drug Price Control Order 2013 (DPCO) under the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012 to bring 348 essential medicines and 652 formulations under a controlled-pricing mechanism.

The DPCO that is to come into force in July is expected to bring down the cost of the essential medicines by 20-25 per cent and in some case, like the anti-cancer drugs, by 80 per cent.

27 therapeutic areas that are to be covered under it include cardiac, pain killers, anti-allergic, gastro-intestinal, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-leprosy, anti-tuberculosis and anti-hypertensive medicines.

The DPCO has the mechanism to keep the prices in check with only annual price-revision allowed and that too, has to be a market-based revision unlike the cost-based one that is in practice now. Another good aspect is the prices of the imported drugs, too, would come under this pricing-control regulation.

Now, this is a significant social empowerment milestone. Increased access to the essential medicines for millions means improved health of the nation. It is a good beginning and it is needed to be talked, discussed and spread if we intend to build further on it.

Increasingly, we have seen the governments come easily under the pressure of the industrial lobbies and we have all the reasons to think that this watchdog too, would be vulnerable to manipulations. We need to develop a vigilant voice to keep a check on it and that needs a healthy tradition of debate over it.

Non-governmental organizations and various social groups have been fighting for the controlled-pricing mechanism to regulate prices of the essential and life-saving drugs and this is indeed a significant victory. But there are many other necessary requirements on the agenda. There have been debates on introducing and promoting generic versions of the costly medicines to meet the healthcare demands of the majority of the Indians and that has to be implemented on priority.

The DPCO notification could well have been an opportunity to extend such debates from the environs of the social groups to the larger public sphere to make the ‘populations’ a direct stakeholder in the process.

But the speakers of the public interest didn’t see a glamour-quotient here and such an issue of social vitality was conveniently buried under the debris of the IPL mess.

When would we understand to prioritize? Why do we need some Aamir Khan to push us to act on the matters of social relevance?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/