Beginning Monday, sale, purchase, storage and manufacturing of all forms of chewable tobacco including ‘guktha’ and pan masala containing tobacco are banned in the national capital. Delhi Government has decided to run campaigns on a large scale to educate the masses about the ban and harmful effect of chewable tobacco.
The AAP government has issued a notification banning all products of chewable tobacco in all forms. “We have put a ban on purchase, sale, manufacturing and even storage of all forms of chewable tobacco from today (Monday) in city. To implement the ban, several teams of Delhi Police, MCD and Food Adulteration will conduct surprise raids,” Health Minister Satyendra Jain said in New Delhi. However, no such ban will be enforced on cigarettes in the capital.
Jain said that over 10,000 people die of Oral Cancer caused by tobacco every year and in the interest of public health, government will not allow the sale, purchase and storage of gutka, pan masala, scented tobacco, kharra and similar products containing tobacco.
“The ban on such products will continue for next one year and thereafter, government will extend the ban every year owing to public interest,” he also said.
According to officials of Health Department, various citizens’ monitoring committees will be formed in every constituency to educate the masses. “We will appeal to people to inform us if they get to see sale of any tobacco product in their area. We will take strict action against the violators. In the citizen’s monitoring committees, RWAs will also be included so that ban would be effectively implemented,” said a senior government official.
Health Department officials said that there was a Delhi government notification in September 2012 which was in pursuance of series of directions from the Supreme Court to ban gutkha in the city. But since the ban mentioned the term “gutkha”, the tobacco retailers started selling the components of gutkha (betel nut and raw tobacco) in separate pouches. So, the purpose of banning gutkha was not served.
Therefore, the health department last year started with a new proposal to ban all the raw chewable tobacco products in Delhi, a senior official said. According to officials, gutkha is also being supplied to retailers in Delhi from neighboring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. “We would also write to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, urging them to launch crackdown against those supplying chewable tobacco to the capital,” the official said.