While a complete ban on tobacco products in the state is unlikely, the Maharashtra government is considering amending the law to restrict the practice of chewing tobacco and consuming tobacco products in public places and government offices.
Public health minister Deepak Sawant said on Wednesday the government is considering stricter rules for people consuming tobacco, as there are no provisions in the existing laws to ban tobacco.
A proposal has been sent to the state law and judiciary department, which will suggest ways in which such rules can be implemented.
Sawant said the state could also put in place restrictions on the sale and supply of tobacco products.
The thrust of the government’s drive will be on increasing awareness through the programme.
“We will begin the drive by ensuring tobacco products are not consumed in government premises, including educational institutions, hospitals and offices. There are advertisements and messages about the ill-effects of smoking, but no such awareness campaigns are aimed at people who chew tobacco. We will address this,” he said.
Around two crore people, or more than 16% of the state’s population chew t obacco, Sawant said.
The state is also considering to propose an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards Act, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act to help impose the restrictions better.
The state has already banned the consumption, sale, supply and production of the Gutkha. As a permanent ban on Gutkha is not possible, the state extends it every year by issuing a notification.