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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

State bans sale of gutka and paan masala Maharashtra First In India To Ban Latter


Mumbai: Maharashtra on Wednesday banned the sale of gutka and paan masala. The state cabinet approved a proposal for banning the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of these two products. 
    Following the cabinet nod, the Prithviraj Chavan government is expected to officially announce the decision in the legislature on Thursday. While a gutka ban al
ready exists in four states—Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh—Maharashtra will be the first to ban paan masala. 
    TOI was the first to report about the Maharashtra government's plan to ban the two products. 
    Asenior cabinet minister said the decision was being taken in the interest of public health. Offenders can face 
jail time of six months to three years. 
    The state has witnessed a rise in the incidence of oral and other forms of cancer, since a sizeable population is addicted to such products.Health activists and NGOs have for long been pushing for the ban on the grounds that the addiction was claiming many lives every year. 
    Besides, what caught the attention of the Chavan-led government was a recent survey sponsored by it, which showed a significant rise in the consumption of gutka and other tobacco products among children in the 14-16 age group. At least 60% of the respondents said they were addicted to the two products. 

CHEW ON THIS 
Gutka ban already exists in Kerala, MP, Bihar and UP 
Maharashtra will be the first state to ban paan masala 
Offenders can face six months to three years in jail 

    360cr Annual sales of gutka in Maharashtra 

    100cr Revenue from 
gutka & paan 
masala sales 
State govt puts lives before revenue 
Mumbai: While the precise extent of pan masala consumption was unavailable, government officials say gutka worth Rs 360 crore was consumed in the state annually. The ban on the two products would mean that the state treasury will lose Rs 100 crore in revenue, but ministers said the prospective loss was nothing compared to the lives saved. 
    Even as food and drug administration (FDA) minister Manohar Naik informed the cabinet that the police and FDA officials would be responsible for enforcing the ban, questions remain about the means at the disposal of the government. It must be pointed out that the state machinery has failed to implement the ban on the sale or consumption of tobacco products within 100 metres of educational and religious institutions. 
    To make it difficult for manufacturers and distributors of 
the products to obtain a stay on the latest ban, the FDA, which initiated the proposal, has invoked stringent provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. According to the fine print, the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of gutka-—found to contain nicotine, tobacco and magnesium carbonate—is being banned in the state, as is paan masala, which contains magnesium carbonate. An attempt to ban the products in 2002 using provisions of the 1954 act had not succeeded. 
    A survey carried out by the FDA previously had found excess magnesium carbonate in 99 of 115 samples of gutka and paan masala. 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT 

    On July 18, 2002, the state government ordered a ban on gutka and paan masala 
    The gutka industry challenged the ban in the Supreme Court, which in August 2004 held it as unconstitutional since both products were classified as food items 
    The Centre in 2011 replaced the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act with the Food Safety and Standard Authority (FSSI) Act, which notes that no food item can contain harmful substances 

    Under the latest ban, offenders can face jail time of six months to three years 
    But questions remain about enforcement, since the state has failed to implement a ban on tobacco within 100 metres of educational institutions



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