Karnataka has joined 25 States and five Union Territories in banning the sale of smokeless tobacco.

Karnataka Health Minister U.T. Khader announced in Bangalore on Friday that the government has banned the sale of gutka and pan masala containing nicotine or tobacco with immediate effect. Making the announcement at the World No Tobacco Day function here, Mr. Khader said the ban has been imposed in the interest of public health.

Dismissing apprehensions that the move would affect areca nut farmers, he assured that the state government would protect the interests of areca nut farmers.

Replying to a question, Mr. Khader said the State Government will soon decide on penalty on those violating the ban.