More than 5,000 teachers across Maharashtra have signed a petition calling for a ban on gutkha brand ‘My Teacher’ that is being sold in the market.
A group of 10 teachers submitted a letter to Satej Patil, minister of state, Food and Drugs Administration, in Mantralaya, on Tuesday, opposing the brand, saying it inappropriately associates teachers with tobacco. Patil has assured teachers that he would look into the matter.
“The teachers have been very upset by the arrival of this new brand,” said Devika Chaddha, project director of Salaam Bombay, a non-profit group that has been working on tobacco control and helped teachers with their campaign.
“As role models for children, associating teachers with tobacco leaves a bad taste.”
In December, the government had issued a notification giving authority to principals and school authorities to fine gutkha and cigarette sellers within a 100-metre radius of the institute.
“We explained our position to the minister and he listened to our views,” said Rajendra Dhangar, from Dongri municipal secondary school, one of the teachers who went to Mantralaya.
“If students see teachers linked to tobacco, they will think it is okay to consume it, which is why we want an immediate ban on the brand.”
Last week, teachers from an Ambernath municipal school had marched to the Ambernath police station and asked officials to book the manufacturers of the brand, when it first came to light.