In-principle approval for gutkha ban in state | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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In-principle approval for gutkha ban in state

The state cabinet has agreed in principle to ban the sale of gutkha and paan masala in the state. It has asked the Food and Drugs Department to come up with a formal proposal in the next weekly cabinet meeting.

mumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2012 01:47 IST
Dharmendra Jore

The state cabinet has agreed in principle to ban the sale of gutkha and paan masala in the state. It has asked the Food and Drugs Department to come up with a formal proposal in the next weekly cabinet meeting.

The issue was mooted even as the cabinet decided to upgrade dental health care in the state, when it was pointed out that gutkha was one of the major reasons for oral diseases such as cancer. Three senior ministers confirmed the development.

The state had unsuccessfully attempted to ban gutkha in 2002 first and then in 2008, but encountered legal hurdles to the ban. In 2010, the state banned the sale of gutkha and cigarettes within 100 metres of schools and colleges. States such as Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Bihar have banned the sale of gutkha.

Maharashtra is one of the highest users of tobacco in the country, with 43 per cent adult men and 19% adult women in the state addicted to it. The findings were published in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in Maharashtra released last month.

The move to ban gutkha gained momentum after deputy chief minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar announced it in a public forum last month. He said that the state would face a loss of Rs. 100 crore in tax from gutkha and pan masala but would not compromise on citizens' health.

A senior FDA official told HT that the earlier gutkha ban did not work because the law then did not support it. However the new Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), which was passed last year, would facilitate the ban this time. "FSSA says that tobacco and nicotine should not be used as ingredients in any food products. "The apex court had ruled that as pan masala, gutkha or supari are eaten, they are food and hence the state can ban gutkha because it is food mixed with tobacco," the officer said requesting anonymity.

On Wednesday, the cabinet approved 1,063 new staff for dental care clinics in sub-district and district hospitals. The health department said that 92% school children were affected by dental tuberculosis and 67% were affected by gum ailments.