A sea of controversy has erupted over the statements by two BJP MPs that smoking Beedi does not lead to cancer. Ironically, Both the MPs Shyama Charan Gupta and Ram Prasad Sharma are Members of Parliamentary committee on Subordinate Legislation, which is looking into the rules regarding tobacco sale in the country.
On Thursday, Lok Sabha MP from Allahabad Shyama Charan Gupta Gupta, whose ‘Shyam Bidi Works’ is one of the largest beedi manufacturers in the country, has questioned “Why cannot doctors explain why chain smokers do not get cancer?”. He also said, “Sugar is also harmful and causes diabetes, but no one can stop that” in his defense of the trade in tobacco products.
Today, another MP from Tezpur, Assam Ram Prasad Sharma has claimed that there is no clear proof yet linking cigarette puffing and cancer while wondering whether tobacco contains ‘herbal medicine’.
“It is difficult to prove, whether it (smoking) causes cancer or not. Whether smoking, tobacco is cancerous or not or whether it contains any herbal medicine also, it has to be found out. So we have kept it in the committee meeting so that doctors can come and testify as witnesses or provide chemical proof, medical proof that smoking causes cancer” Sharma said.
Both the BJP leaders claim that they know numbers of chain smokers who do not have cancer.
However, opposition parties including Congress, SP, JD (U) and CPI-M have vehemently criticised both the MPs in this regard. Thsese parties alleged that there is a conflict of interest of both BJP MPs and questioned their ethics on continuance in the Parliament Committee which has to consider issues related to tobacco.