New Delhi: There has been a steady increase between 2012 and 2015 in the volume of chewing tobacco manufactured in the country which “does not match” with the domestic regulatory environment on smokeless tobacco products, the WHO has said.
Citing Finance Ministry data, a World Health Organisation paper released ahead of World No Tobacco Day tomorrow also states that there has been a sudden 71-fold increase in the manufacture of other smokeless tobacco products between 2013-14 and 2014-15.
“This does not match with domestic regulatory environment on smokeless tobacco products wherein most states and Union Territories in the country began banning the manufacture and sale of gutka and other forms of smokeless tobacco in 2013. “Their manufacturing would, therefore, be expected to decrease in the last two financial years,” said the paper on illicit trade of tobacco.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence detected 16 lakh gutka pouches of foreign origin between January and April, 2015, closely after the ban on gutka across states. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and WHO India office across seven states and the national capital, where gutka is banned, indicated that 15 per cent of the respondents reported consuming pre-packaged gutka (as opposed to mixing contents of separate pouches to make gutka) in 2014.
“Notably, the assessable value of gutka exports from India during the same period increased from Rs 186 to 300 crore.
“This gains significance given the fact that with the exception of Gujarat, no Indian state or Union Territory that has banned the manufacture of gutka permits its production for exports,” says the paper.