The Assam government has banned manufacture, distribution and sale of gutka and pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine for a period of one year with immediate effect. The ban was made in pursuance of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation, 2011, an official statement said on Wednesday.
"The notification prohibits manufacture, distribution, sale, transportation, display of gutka and pan masala or any chewing material etc (by whatsoever name) containing tobacco and nicotine as ingredients available in the market, are prohibited in the state of Assam for a period of one year under clause (a) of Sub-section 2 of Section 30 of Food Safety and Security Act, 2006 in the interest of public health with immediate effect" it said.
Meanwhile, Consumers' Legal Protection Forum (CLPF), Assam and Consumer VOICE, New Delhi has welcome the government's notification for supporting the initiative of banning chewing tobacco, gutkha and pan masala. Terming this as long overdue, the two consumer activist organisations in their statements on Wednesday thanked the state government for its efforts in tobacco control intervention to save millions of lives and said this curb will help citizens in overcoming cancer and other dreaded diseases.
"The rise in number of tobacco users especially smokeless is a cause of worry because it is easily accessible to children and youth. We are working in the state through our programmes to protect the public, especially youth and children from exposure to tobacco use," the Secretary of CLPF, Ajoy Hazarika, said.
Stating Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS 2) released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) shows 48.2 per cent of adults in Assam consume tobacco, Hazarika welcomed the decision as much needed for the people of Assam, adding, "the younger generation who were targeted by companies will now be saved from this menace."
The Chief Operating Officer of Consumer VOICE, Ashim Sanyal, said, now the people of Assam can lead a more healthy and productive life as both tobacco and nicotine products will be out of bounds for the populace. A notification regarding the ban was signed by Assam Food Safety Commissioner Dr Chandrima Baruah on November 22, the statement said.