Health Minister U.T. Khader urged all health officials to strictly enforce the ban on gutka and paan masala containing tobacco and nicotine enforced by the State government on May 31.

Speaking at the orientation workshop on tobacco counselling and de-addiction services conducted by Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, here Tuesday, he said the challenge was now to prevent gutka users switching over to other forms of tobacco such as cigarette and beedi. He said counsellors should play a proactive role to help overcome such addiction. “Several Primary Health Centres are already providing counselling services.” Talking about the plight of the arecanut farmers, Mr. Khader said the government would not succumb to pressure from the arecanut lobby. Farmers could explore growing alternative crops, he said, and assured them government support.