Decision taken after Supreme Court notice in April

The State government has, in the interest of public health, banned the manufacture and sale of gutka, and paan masala containing tobacco or nicotine, with immediate effect, Health Minister U.T. Khader announced at the World No Tobacco Day function here Friday.

The notification was issued by Food Safety Commissioner V.B. Patil.

“After learning about the adverse effects on health, the decision was taken after consulting the Council of Ministers and the health officials,” the Minister said.

One of the last States

Karnataka will now join 25 States and five Union Territories that have already imposed the ban. M. Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, said the ban on smokeless tobacco was not “hurried”. The debate had been raging since 2010, and health experts had favoured the ban. However, the decision was taken after the Supreme Court, in April this year, issued a notice to all the State governments, directing them to file affidavits on the compliance on gukta ban.

Arecanut farmers

Dismissing fears that the ban would affect the livelihood of arecanut farmers, he said the State government, if needed, would take steps to protect their interests. Besides, the arecanut used in the manufacture of gutka and paan masala products is of “cheap quality, imported from other countries”.

Earlier, the Health Department presented three cancer patients who exhorted people to avoid consumption of gutka.

Durgaiah (55), a farmer from Ramanagaram who has throat cancer, said that he had to get his voice box removed. Speaking with his hand covering the hole in his throat, he said: “I consumed gutka for more than a decade, which had resulted in cancer. The government’s decision to ban tobacco will help prevent more victims like me.”

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