Guwahati, Apr 3: Days after the BJP MP, who was heading a Parliamentary panel, claimed there is no Indian study to substantiate the fact that tobacco use lead to cancer, another BJP MP from Assam has come up with a more bizarre defence that he has seen several chain-smokers but they were not afflicted by cancer.
BJP MP further claimed that there is no clear proof yet linking cigarette puffing and cancer while wondering whether tobacco contains "herbal medicine".
"Whether cigarette smoking causes cancer or not, there is no full proof till now," Ram Prasad Sarmah, BJP MP from Tezpur, Assam said in Biswanath Chariali, about 75 km from Tezpur town.
He mentioned that he knew two senior lawyers, of whom one smoked 60 cigarettes and had a bottle of liquor everyday yet died at 86, without cancer while the other at 75 years is alive and smokes 40 cigarettes a day and drinks liquor but is not afflicted by cancer.
Sarmah, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation which is looking into the rules regarding tobacco sale in the country, said the panel would focus on facts.
"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," Sarmah said.
"We are not for or against, we want to look at it impartially without bias, whether smoking cigarettes causes cancer or not," he added.
Sarmah's remarks come in the back drop of a controversy triggered by 'beedi' baron and BJP MP from Allahabad, Shyama Charan Gupta, also a member of same Parliamentary panel, that a lot of chain-smokers had no cancer.
"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," Gupta, a Lok Sabha MP from Allahabad, had said.
Gupta's remarks had come barely days after the Parliamentary panel head Dilip Gandhi, also from BJP, had said there was no Indian study to confirm that tobacco use leads to cancer, leaving the government embarrassed and rival parties and the medical fraternity fuming.
Meanwhile opposition parties continued to criticise Gupta's remarks with the JD(U) saying that there is a conflict of interest and questioned Gupta's continuance in the panel which has to consider issues related to tobacco.
(With inputs from PTI)