Bihar bans 12 brands of pan masala, more may follow
Bihar, which became a dry state on April 5, 2016, had earlier, on May 30, 2012, banned the sale of tobacco and nicotine mixed gutkha and pan masala for one year. The ban has since been extended every year.Updated: Aug 31, 2019 01:17 IST
After Maharashtra, Bihar on Friday took the first step towards banning all varieties of pan masala, prohibiting manufacture, storage, distribution, transportation, display or sale of 12 brands of the addictive product.
Bihar, which became a dry state on April 5, 2016, had earlier, on May 30, 2012, banned the sale of tobacco and nicotine mixed gutkha and pan masala for one year. The ban has since been extended every year.
“Friday’s order means a ban on any form of pan masala, plain or premixed tobacco and nicotine variety, on the 12 brands currently identified to be containing magnesium carbonate, a harmful chemical, which could lead to cardiac arrest,” said Sanjay Kumar, Bihar’s principal secretary, health, and commissioner of food safety, who issued the order.
Presence of magnesium carbonate as an ingredient in food article contravenes provisions under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives), Regulations, 2011, he said.
The ban, for a period of one year beginning Friday, was imposed under the food safety Act.
“Twenty samples of pan masala, of different brands, were collected from different districts of Bihar between June and August for analysis at the state food testing laboratory, Agamkuan, and were found to contain magnesium carbonate as an ingredient in them,” said Dr Kaushal Kishore, additional secretary (health) and Bihar’s nodal officer for food safety.
The health department was likely to extend the ban on many other leading brands over the next week as it was awaiting laboratory test reports. Sources said surveillance test had indicated presence of magnesium carbonate in them too but the government was awaiting results of legal samples.
Some leading pan masala brands in the country are currently out of the purview of the ban.
Most pan masala mention betel nut, catechu, cardamom, lime and menthol as their ingredients. A 3 gram sachet costs Rs 4 (approx).
The prevalence rate of tobacco in Bihar has come down from 54% to 25.9% as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS). This means that 25.9% people in Bihar consume tobacco in one form or the other. The most common form of tobacco used is smokeless, which includes, gutkha, pan masala, khaini, jarda, etc., and is believed to be consumed by nearly 23.5% of adults in Bihar, said Deepak Mishra, executive director of the Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (Seeds), an NGO, partnering the state government in its tobacco control initiative.