Chewable tobacco easily available in spite of SC ban, says survey

New Delhi [India], June 1 : In lieu of World Tobacco Day being observed on Wednesday, citizen engagement platform LocalCircles' set of surveys revealed that out of the 10,143 responses, 86 percent said chewable tobacco is easily available, in spite of a ban being imposed on it by the Supreme Court (SC).

In September 2016, the apex court in a historic judgment enforced a ban on the sale of all forms of chewable tobacco and nicotine, and directed authorities to strictly enforce its directions.

The SC's decision came almost five years after the tobacco manufacturers had found a way to overcome the regulation on chewable tobacco by selling pan masala and tobacco in separate pouches.

The 2011 regulation 2.3.4 stated: "Products not to contain any substance which may be injurious to health: Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products." This meant a ban on all food products where tobacco is present as an ingredient in the final product.

While some states had issued orders to comply with the aforementioned order, most of the states have still done nothing to enforce the ban.

Out of the states where the survey was conducted, citizens of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala said the enforcement has not been effective, while those in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Hyderabad and Karnataka said the tobacco ban enforcement in their state has been poor.

The tobacco banned has been imposed only in two states-Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In a related poll, 97 percent of the participants said print and television advertisements of chewable tobacco products should be completely banned by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in line with the SC's order to ban these products.

Citizens also suggested that the government should take measures to revoke the production licenses and direct closure of all guthka and chewable tobacco product factories.

Furthermore, they suggested that the nodal central government agencies should ensure that all factories producing chewable tobacco in any form are shut down.

They said the agencies needed to work in very close coordination with state and other local authorities like police and health department to ensure that the ban is implemented.

Source: ANI