The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is disturbed by recent media coverage of a purported 'intelligence bureau' report stating that restrictions on tobacco use in India would encourage consumption of more injurious toxicants like alcohol and narcotic drugs.

IMA national president Dr KK Aggarwal in a letter written to Dr Hendrik Jan Bekedam, WHO representative in India said that, "We want to understand scientific basis of this association which has been projected as a fact in that report. To the best of our knowledge there does not exist any credible proof of such an association in scientific literature and this association seems more of a tobacco industry instigated argument. We wish to know if WHO supports this view point."

Dr Aggarwal said that everyone knew that reduction in tobacco use has only improved health of people worldwide, to best of available evidence and tobacco is implicated as a gateway drug to other addictions. Such reports run counter to the Indian Government's commitment to WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the National Tobacco Control Programme and the target adopted by India to reduce prevalence of tobacco use by 30% by 2025.

The IMA president said that there is a need to refute such non-scientific reports that can dangerously mislead both public opinion and government policy. As such, IMA is looking to WHO to release the correct science based facts on this matter in the interest of the society. "We are taking it up with the Government of India, to correct the distortions created by wrongly propagated myths."

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