‘We have brought in stringent laws to check smoking in public places’
Members of various non-government organisations working in the area of tobacco control have demanded that Delhi too join the various States across the country and ban gutka/smokless tobacco products sale in the Capital which will have a direct health benefit for over 10 lakh gutka users specially youngsters.
Voluntary Health Association of India executive director Bhavna Mukhopadhyay said: “We have met with the Delhi Chief Minister on Monday and asked her to consider the ban. Taking into account the health hazards related to chewing tobacco, which causes mouth, throat cancer at early years, eight States --Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh--have recently banned gutka, and pan masala.’’ These States have banned the sale, manufacture and distribution of gutka, khaini , pan masala containing tobacco, based on the regulation issued on 1 August 2011 by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Ms. Mukhopadhyay added that by banning gutka, the State Government in the eight States has demonstrated tremendous commitment towards safe guarding the health of people of India and protecting the masses, especially the youth from the growing menace of tobacco addiction.
The Association has now requested that the Delhi Government should also implement the ban on gutka sale in larger interest of younger generation who is falling prey to the tobacco menace and suffer premature death.
Delhi Health Minister Dr. A.K. Walia said: “The matter is under consideration and we have brought in stringent laws about smoking in public places. As for banning sale of smokeless tobacco products we still have to get this proposal cleared in the Cabinet and only then can this issue move forward.’’
India has the highest number of oral cancer in the world with over 75, 000 new cases of oral cancers a year. Gutka and other forms of chewing tobacco sold in small pouches across the country has become a very serious health hazard.
“Since gutka and pan masala are marketed as mouth fresheners, its habit starts at a very young age. Due to its flavoured taste, easy availability and low price, it is popular among children, youth and women. Gutka use is becoming an alternative choice in India as our social mores do not permit children or women to smoke cigarettes,’’ noted a release issued by the Association.