Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said on Sunday he wished someone had warned him about the risks of consuming tobacco four decades ago, The Hindu reported. He signed a pledge to work towards the eradication of oral cancer by 2022.

“I chewed supari often and it caused oral cancer,” Pawar said at an event to launch a mission against the disease by the Indian Dental Association in Mumbai. “Because of oral cancer, I had to undergo a major surgery. All my teeth had to be removed. I wish someone had warned me 40 years ago.”

He said the surgery had left him with “difficulty in speaking, swallowing and inability to open the mouth completely”.

The former Union minister said he was pained that lakhs of Indians continued to fall prey to tobacco, PTI reported. He also promised he would bring up the topic in Parliament.

“It is unfortunate that there is no national policy for oral health in our country,” he said.