The Sheila Dikshit cabinet may soon impose a ban on chewable tobacco in the Capital following the example of eight other state governments.
The Delhi government is, however, likely to keep other tobacco products, such as cigarettes and bidis, outside the purview of the ban.
Chewing tobacco accounts for over half of all tobacco use in India, and causes oral cancer, which is the most common form of the disease in the country.Hearing a petition filed by Doctors For You seeking a ban on tobacco products in the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave the Dikshit government two weeks to take a decision.
According to the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 10.5% of adults in the Capital have smokeless tobacco, such as gutka, zarda, khaini and other chewable products.
"It has to be a cabinet decision. The cabinet will meet after we go through a copy of the court's order. I have always been in favour of ban, but the final decision will be made by the cabinet," Dr AK Walia, Delhi's health minister, said.
"Oral cancer, caused by consumption of tobacco and tobacco products, is the most preventable form of cancer," said Dr GK Rath, chief, Dr BRA Institute-Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The Delhi government's department of health and family welfare has already been working to ensure a curb on consumption of tobacco products.
The prevention of food adulteration (PFA) department had taken samples of gutka being sold in the city and found banned substances, including nicotine, in some of them.
According to Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011, gutka and other forms of chewing tobacco products, such as zarda, pan masala, gul, kheni and bajjar, which are toxic and addictive, should be banned.
These are already banned in Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Goa.