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Gutka ban in Gujarat from Sept 11

A comprehensive ban on sale, stocking, production and distribution of gutka in Gujarat will come into effect from tomorrow on September 12. The announcement of the ban was made by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day last month.

“I have to save the youths of Gujarat, from the dreaded evil of cancer and that’s why a decision to impose a complete ban on gutka has been taken,” Modi had said while making the announcement on August 15 in Junagadh.

The ban would bring with it several qualitative changes in the health, economic spending and the environment, he had said.

The ban will come into force from September 11, the day when Swami Vivekananda addressed the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893. The date for the ban was fixed to ensure complete disposal of the existing stock of gutka that was in circulation.

Maharashtra government had recently imposed a comprehensive ban on gutka and pan masala. The item is also banned in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, while Rajasthan government had last month announced its decision to ban the product.

The ban has already been notified by the Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration.

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) has welcomed the decision of the Government of Gujarat to ban gutka. The decision comes after a concerted effort from the Department of Health, Government of Gujarat that played a crucial role in emphasizing the colossal burden of tobacco use in the state, especially smokeless tobacco, PHFI officials said.

“Considering the fact that India is the world capital of oral cancer and smokeless tobacco is the greatest cause of oral cancer in India, this decision will go a long way to reduce burden of oral tobacco, especially among youth of Gujarat. We hope the decision, once effective, will be implemented in its letter and spirit by the concerned enforcement agencies.” said Dr. Monika Arora, Head, Health Promotion and Tobacco Control, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2009-10 India Report, 29.4 per cent adults in Gujarat use tobacco in one form or the other. Smokeless tobacco use is more prevalent in the Gujarat with 18.4 per cent of the adult population using smokeless tobacco products while 7.8 per cent use smoking forms. About 46.2 per cent males and 11.3 per cent females are current tobacco users. As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey - 2009, 14.6 per cent of the youth are using tobacco in any form, in India.

The gutkha market could be between Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 20,000 crore in annual sales. Sachets are sold through paan shops where hundreds of brands are sold.

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