Although long overdue, the Tamil Nadu government’s move to ban the manufacture, storage and sale of gutka and pan masala in the State is a welcome step (“Reducing the harm,” May 14). But one wonders why the grim reality — that one in 20 young men die of cancer by the age of 70 — and messages on cigarette packets do not deter tobacco users. Despite being a punishable offence, one wonders why not many are booked for smoking in public. For any law to have the intended result, it should be enforced strictly.
There is no denying the fact that gutka and pan masala containing tobacco have been banned in 24 States and UTs. But there is no ban on selling chewing tobacco separately, at least in Delhi. The manufacturers, in fact, charge the consumers more. The ban on selling gutka has become remunerative for them.
The only change is that the user mixes tobacco with the pan masala while earlier he got it readymade in the shape of gutka. One wonders whether the government is really serious about reducing the number of tobacco users.
The Centre and the States should work together to reduce the use of tobacco. Cancer is only one of the numerous adverse effects of tobacco use. Even those who know that tobacco kills smoke and chew it. The ban on the sale of gutka in a few States will not be of much use if the other States continue to sell it. Nor will advertisements against the use of tobacco yield the desired effect if companies keep manufacturing and selling gutka. Efforts should be made to ensure that all the States ban it.
The need of the hour is to check the illegal supply chain and prevent the sale of tobacco products. The endeavour should be to ban all forms of tobacco products, including bidis, to achieve a tobacco free nation.