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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Letters to the Editor

Author(s): (PMP Singh) Lt Col.

Vol. 30, No. 1 (2005-03 - 2005-03)

Tobacco Related Cancers - An Emerging Public Health Problem in INDIA

People both smokers and non-smokers alike, may not know tobacco use risks of cancer at many sites in our body in addition to the lungs. In India near about 240 million tobacco users constitute nearly one-third of the 0.8 billion tobacco users in the developing workd1. The consequences are alarming. Tobacco claims the lives of 6,30,000 Indians every year and most of them die at their young age2, which is 6.6% of the total population. In fact 60% of Indians starts smoking before 20 years of age3.

Bidi popular in rural India, is even more dangerous. Bidi smokers have 40% higher risk of developing cancer than cigarette smokers4. According to World Health Organization (W.H.O) by 2020 A.D. tobacco use is estimated to cause 13.3% of all deaths in India. Nearly half of all cancer cases in India are tobacco related and over three fifths of those below 40 years of their age5 and oral cancer and pre-cancerous lesions in India has long been linked with the habit of betel quid chewing incorporation with tobacco. Oral cancer is one of the major public health problem in our country. It constitutes 12% of all cancers in men and 8% of all cancers among women4.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is celebrated around the world every year on May, 31st. This year WNTD will focus on the role of the fashion and film world in forstering the tobacco epidemic and urge them to stop being used and vehicles of death and diseases. The WNTD theme for 2003 is tobacco free films, tobacco free fashion and tobacco free action. Bollywood the Indian film industries in the city of Mumbai were invited to participate in the worldwide movement to rid films of their tobacco promoting roles.

Alarmed by the aggressive attempts of multinational tobacco companies to expand their market in our country we should invite all section of the society, including the non-government organizations, to create broad based partnerships that will advance the agenda of tobacco control in this region by improving the awareness about the dreaded effect of tobacco use through appropriate educational and regulatory interventions.


  1. Health Situation in the South-East Asian Region 1994-97,W.H.O. Regional Office, New Delhi, 1998 I.C.M.R. Bulletin 2001.
  2. Meheta F.S., Hamner J.F. Tobacco related oral mucosal lesions and conditions in India. Tata Inst. of Fundamental Reserch, 1993.
  3. Health Research and Development W.H.O., 1996.
  4. Hamada G.S. et al. Comparative epiderniology of oral cancer in Brazil and India. Tokai J Exp. Clin Med., 1991 Mar., 16(1) 63-72.

Dr. Amit Dam,
Department of Community Medicine,
Mednapore Medical College
Paschim Medinipure, West Bengal.

Modernisation of Indian Journal of Community Medicine

I have been an ardent reader of your esteemed journal for the past many years and of course over a period of time your journal has grown both qualitatively and qualitatively. It has been observed that the journal often gets affected due to seepage which invariably occurs in Government accommodation where majority of us stay. Moreover it also gets damaged by fungus which results in premature spoiling of the good quality paper of the journal. Besides storage of so many valuable editions of the journal becomes a problem, due to constraints of space in the various types of accommodation.

In the present IT era, I strongly feel that the editions of the last 5 to 10 years of the Indian Journal of Community Medicine should be made into a CD-ROM in HTML format, with author wise, subject wise and year wise search facility. I am sure that the subscribers will not hesitate to subscribe to your CD-ROM journal even if they are charged Rs. 500/- as a one time payment for the editions of the last 5 to 10 years.

Besides the current editions may also be issued in the form of a CD-ROM in HTML format with suitable search facilities. The same can also be suitably priced to offset the cost of developing the software. To tide over the problem of software piracy, which is rampant all over the country the subscription can be made compulsory for all life members at lest. This will also take care of various problems of premature spoiling of the journal as mentioned in para 2 above.

(PMP Singh) Lt Col. Officer Commanding Station Health Organisation (large), Devlali-422401

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