Gujarat aims to plug holes in gutkha ban
- Sep 27, 2012, 05:56 AM IST
Gandhinagar: The state government officials on Wednesday said that they would take action against manufacturers and sellers who were trying to circumvent the gutkha ban by selling compounds of the banned product separately.
At a state-level stakeholder consultation on tobacco control held in Gandhinagar by the Public Health Foundation of India and the Indian Institute of Public Health on Wednesday, deputy commissioner, food and drug administration said that the matter had been brought to their notice.
“It has been brought to our notice that now many pan shop owners have taken to selling tobacco and pan masala in different pouches. The samples that we seize are sent to the laboratory for testing. If the testing reveals presence of nicotine, action will be taken against the offenders, irrespective of whether the product was sold as gutkha or as separate compounds,” said Dipika Chauhan, deputy commissioner, food and drug administration.
“The ban on gutkha and pan masala is the first in a series of moves. As we face hurdles we will come up with ways to tackle them to ensure that the ban remains effective,” said Chauhan. She added that it is very difficult to get rid of a habit that one has had for long.
Dr Shilin Shukla, director, Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute, said that most of the tobacco addicts begin consumption at the young age of 8 to 10 years.
“We don’t have separate data on gutkha and cancer. Hence it is difficult to clearly state its contribution to cancer figures,” said Shukla. He said that tobacco-cessation efforts in the country were not being carried out at the institutional level. “We need combined efforts at the institutional level,” said Shukla.
He also advocated a total ban on tobacco.
“A comparison of the money that the government spends on tobacco-related diseases vis-à-vis revenue from the product will show that the expense outstrips the income,” he said. PK Taneja, commissioner—Health, too confirmed that people have come up with innovative ways to circumvent the ban.