Chandigarh, Jan 17 (Agencies): Noting that 26 per cent of the total population is chewing cancer-causing tobacco, the Centre on Monday said it was formulating a smokeless tobacco specific policy.

"So far the Health Ministry's anti-tobacco programmes revolved around cigarettees...there is another monster as 26 per cent of the population is using smokeless tobacco with potential to create cancer," Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said inaugurating a block  of HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital of Panjab University here.

Quoting a survey by a reputed international agency, he said around 35 per cent adults of the total population were smoking.

"It is shocking that out of this total 35 per cent population, 26 per cent are consuming smokeless tobacco," he said adding eighty per cent of oral cancer was a result of chewing tobacco.

He said only nine per cent of the population was smoking cigarettees and bidi.

"With the smokeless tobacco having the potential to create 80 per cent of oral cancer, the Health Ministry is formulating a policy which is smokeless tobacco specific," he said.

He said according to a survey between 60 to 65 years of age 12 per cent of population lose its teeth and more than 30 per cent population lose its teeth over 70 years of age.

"Tobacco is one of the contributory factors in loss of teeths as well," he said adding the role of dentistry was far behind the implantation.

He said the thrust of the Health Ministry was to produce more MBBS doctors and bring sweeping changes in the Medical Council of India.

He said the Ministry had last year decided to set up 10 centers of excellence in para medics.