NEW DELHI: After the tobacco industry is hit by the ban on its sale, it seems that the political leaders are on a spree to invite controversies by defending tobacco.

The latest to join the league is another Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker who has come out in defence of the tobacco industry and stated that smoking does not have any negative impact on an individual’s health.

According BJP MP from Assam, Ram Prasad Sarmah, whether or not smoking causes cancer is debatable. 

To authenticate his remarks, Sarmah stated, “I know two elderly people who drank a bottle of alcohol and smoked 60 cigarettes every day. One is still alive, the other died at 86.”

A massive controversy had broken out earlier following comments from a Parliamentary panel head and BJP MP Dilip Gandhi who claimed that there is no Indian study to confirm that tobacco use leads to cancer leaving the government embarrassed and rival parties and the medical fraternity gunning for him.

An MP from Maharashtra, Gandhi was also described as ‘foolish’ and ‘ignorant’ for his ‘shocking and absurd’ remarks that coincided with the April 1 deadline for increasing size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products being deferred by the government amid demands by various tobacco lobbies. 

On the other hand, BJP leader and ‘beedi’ baron Shyam Charan Gupta had also backed MP Dilip Gandhi’s comment. While speaking to reporters, he said, “I can produce a lot of people in front of you who are chain smokers of beedi and till date they have had no disease, no cancer… You get diabetes due to eating sugar, rice, potatoes. Why don’t you write warnings for all these things as well?”

Ram Prasad Sarmah is the third parliamentarian from the ruling BJP to defend the tobacco industry. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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