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Doctor honoured for fight against tobacco

Cancer specialist U.S. Vishal Rao of Bengaluru has been honoured with the 2017 Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence for his role in combating tobacco use. Dr. Rao was presented the award on Wednesday at an event organised by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington D.C.

His efforts led to a ban on gutka, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes in Karnataka. However, the State government recently overturned the ban on chewing tobacco.

Dr. Rao is a member of the High-power Committee on Tobacco Control instituted by the government of Karnataka. He is the inventor of a Rs. 50 voice box prosthetic for throat cancer patients whose larynx has been removed.

Speaking over telephone from Washington DC, Dr. Rao said, “The committee gave the award in recognition of the steps taken towards implementing the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act, and how Karnataka led the way. Another was implementation of the ban on gutka and chewing tobacco by the government of Karnataka.”

The Wilkenfeld Award was established in honour of Judy Wilkenfeld, founder of Tobacco-Free Kids’ international program. Dr. Rao is the second Indian to receive the award, the first being Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital in 2013.

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