Government Should Forcibly Discourage Smoking: Amartya Sen

During the second foundation lecture of Cancer Foundation of India, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen said that the government should forcibly discourage smoking in India. He also said that though the smokers have a personal liberty for deciding on their habit, the habit causes harm to others and hence, it should be discouraged.

By saying harm to others, he not only intended passive smoking effects, but also the medical treatment costs (such as treatment for cancer) of the people, for whom government will bear the costs. He also said that, since the medical resources are limited in our country, they should be otherwise used for treating other natural ailments, rather than acquired diseases.

Further, he opined that cancer is a disease that receives less attention in India. It is given higher importance, particularly in rich countries. And in the country like ours, the focus is mainly on the disease like cardiovascular and diarrhoeal diseases which occur on a regular basis and kill a large group of people.

He said that the health policy makers have a wrong perception that people in poor countries have less life expectancy and for them cancer is a relatively small threat, but diseases such as communicable diseases are highly dangerous since they cause high number of mortalities. But, in the present conditions as the life expectancy of people in India too is increasing, the effects of cancer too are likely to rise.

He also mentioned that while the bad habits such as smoking are declining in rich countries like USA, it is rising in the countries such as China and India.

Source: The Hindu

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