After Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, Punjab is set to become the fifth state in the country to impose a ban on the sale of gutkha and pan masala. Confirming the decision, Punjab director (health services) Dr JP Singh said a notification regarding the ban would be issued in a few days.
Sources in the state health department said that to make up for the loss of revenue on account of the ban on these two products, the department had written to the excise department to increase the taxes on certain other tobacco products.
Health officials said the state cancer control cell was in the process of formulating a policy on banning gutkha. "We will be imposing a complete ban on the manufacture, sale, storage and distribution of gutkha and pan masala," said cell programme officer and assistant director (health) Dr Rakesh K Gupta.
"Since gutkha and pan masala fall under the category of food products, anything which contains tobacco can be banned under the Food Safety and Standards (Regulation) Act, 2011," he said.
Doctors of the school of public health and department of community medicine of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh are assisting the state government in overcoming the hurdles that could come in the way of enforcing the ban.
Dr Sonu Goel, assistant professor, community medicine, PGIMER, said that according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2009-2010, 12% people in the state consume tobacco and 6.5% adults chew tobacco products.