Directs NIPH to do a comprehensive study

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Union of India on an application from the Centre for Public Interest Litigation alleging that though 14 States had banned gutka, the ban was not being effectively implemented.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadaya issued notice after hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan. He said that only gutka (mixture of pan masala and tobacco) was banned by 14 States. Neither pure tobacco nor pan masala (without tobacco) was banned and as a result manufacture was still going on.

The application said the court imposed a complete prohibition on the use of plastic material for packing of tobacco products, gutka and pan masala. The court also directed the National Institute of Public Health to do a comprehensive study on the harmful health effects of gutka, tobacco and pan masala. It said: “The said study is now on record and it brings out the serious harmful effects of chewing tobacco, tobacco products and pan masala on human health.”

The CPIL said: “It has become abundantly clear (since all plastic packed products of gutka, pan masala are still easily available) that other manufacturers have wilfully and brazenly violated this court’s order. Most of these manufacturers don’t give the manufacturing date. Some of them do not state on the package that the product inside is gutka or pan masala, and instead give misleading nomenclature. Some of the manufacturers write ‘for export only’ (though these products are easily available across the country) and pretend as if this court does not cover exports.”

It said: “If gutka and chewing tobacco are banned but pan masala is not banned then that would make the implementation of such a ban impossible, as manufacturers would pass their tobacco-laden pan masala as ‘sada’ pan masala or tobacco-free pan masala. And even pan masala consumption is linked to high rates of oral cancer.”


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