In the wake of the enforcement drive to implement the State government’s ban on the sale of pan masala, a study has disputed the argument raised by tobacco companies that the ban will lead to large scale loss in revenue and employment especially among small scale traders in the State.

The study conducted by the Master of Public Health Division of Mahatma Gandhi University’s School of Medical Education, reveals that the ban will not in any way affect the prospects of small scale traders.

The study was based on a sample survey covering 1,200 shops in Kottayam, Changanassery, Pala, Kanjirappally, Karukachal, Vaikom, Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy, Chingavanam, Kumarakom, and Puthupally.

A team comprising five first-year Master of Public Health Division students led by faculty member Benoy S. Babu conducted the survey over a period of 12 days.

“The sample is strong enough to give a State-wide pattern going beyond Kottayam district where the survey was conducted. The survey was based on a questionnaire of 16 questions and we personally took down the responses,” Mr. Babu told The Hindu.

According to the survey, the sale of tobacco products accounted for only one per cent of the total revenue of 55 per cent earned by the traders surveyed. Only eight per cent of the traders reported between 10 per cent and 30 per cent revenue from tobacco products. Majority of them were roadside vendors.

Only four per cent of the traders exclusively dealt in tobacco products and of this 3 per cent were roadside vendors, mostly migrants.

Forty eight per cent of the traders reported no loss of income owing to the ban, while 38 per cent of the traders reported losses that ranged between Rs.50 and Rs100.

Nine per cent claimed losses between Rs.100 and Rs.200. Except for a sole trader no one else complained of loss of employment due to the ban.

In fact, 98 per cent of traders were of the opinion that the ban of pan masala has stopped people from spitting pan and littering in public places.

Fifty four per cent of the traders vouched that the ban on chewing tobacco products had not led to any perceptible surge in the sale of cigarettes and bidis while the remaining 46 per cent of the traders reported an increase.

Sixty eight per cent of small scale traders favoured the ban while just five per cent opposed it.

Interestingly, 65 per cent of all the traders surveyed had started sale of other products like banana, vegetables, soft drinks, or bakery items to compensate for the slight fall in revenue. While five per cent of the traders shifted the location of their sales, one per cent stopped trading altogether.

Thirty eight per cent of the traders told the surveyors that they had thought of stopping the sale of tobacco products even before the State government imposed the ban.

Ninety two per cent of the traders vouched that they had not sold the tobacco products in question since the government banned it.

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