Officials deployed to enforce the ban across the State

The Health and Family Welfare Department on Saturday issued guidelines for officials to implement the ban on gutka in the State. It will be based on the model adopted by Maharashtra, one of the first States to ban the tobacco product.

M. Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), who issued a circular to this effect, told The Hindu that it would take at least a week for the enforcement to take shape.

“We are working on building strong mechanisms to enforce the ban. As a first step, we have appointed more than a 100 food safety officers, who will be responsible for enforcing the ban at the grassroot level,” he said.

The State government, which has been directed by the Supreme Court to submit a compliance report and an affidavit on tobacco control and gutka ban by June 23, banned the sale and manufacture of gutka and paan masala under the regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. These regulations have been framed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

“Sections 57, 58 and 59 of the Act clearly specify that anyone who manufactures, sells, stores or distributes products with an adulterant that is injurious to health shall be slapped with a penalty of up to Rs. 10 lakh. If the adulterant is not injurious to health, the penalty is Rs. 2 lakh. Also, the person is liable to a jail term of seven years or even life-time if anyone who consumes the product dies,” Mr. Madan Gopal said.

He said district surveillance officers had been redeployed as district designated officers to supervise the enforcement.

The seized products would be tested at the food safety laboratories in Mysore, Bangalore, Gulbarga and Belgaum, Mr. Madan Gopal added.