On the occasion of World Cancer Day, Rajasthan’s Health Minister Shri Parsadi Lal Meena’s statement to the media negating any link of tobacco with cancer is utterly shocking. In response to a question from a journalist, the Health Minister said that “Cancer can happen to anyone…..Cancer has nothing to do with tobacco…..Many people in my village consume tobacco, but they never got cancer…” (कैंसर किसी को भी हो सकता है…..कैंसर का तम्बाकू से कोई लेना देना नहीं है…..मेरे गाँव में बहुत से लोग तम्बाकू सेवन करते हैं, लेकिन उन्हें कभी कैंसर नहीं हुआ…)

It seems that the present Health Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Parsadi Lal Meena ji is not aware that a person who consumes tobacco is two and a half times more likely to have cancer than the person who does not consume it. Tobacco consists of more than 50 such toxic chemicals which when enter the body augment the risk of different kind of cancers.

He is probably also not aware that every year more than 88,000 people in Rajasthan alone and more than 13 lakh people across the country lose their lives due to tobacco related diseases. Tobacco in different forms is the cause of about 27% of all cancers across the country.

About 45% of all cancers in men and 17% in women have been found to be directly related to tobacco use. Our country is the oral cancer capital of the world which is mainly caused due to tobacco consumption. In such a situation, this statement of the Health Minister of the state is not only extremely insensitive but it also indicates his weak understanding of health issues. Such reckless statement by a person holding a significant position not only sends a wrong message in the public but would also prove to be a big blow to the tobacco control efforts going on across the state.

This irresponsible statement by a state minister and that too a Minister of the Health Department outrightly rejecting facts established by solid scientific evidence all over the world is worrying in many ways. Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Rajasthan condemns his statement and demands that he either withdraws his statement immediately or resigns from his post.