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Q. Ban on all forms of chewable tobacco: Outline the background of this issue and also comment on recent ban?
Apr 18, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently the Delhi government has banned the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco: scented, flavoured and mixed, sold in forms such as gutka, pan masala, khaini and zarda for a year as these products damage public health.

These tobacco and areca nut (commonly referred to as betel nut) products, if consumed have potential to endanger human health and will adversely affect the life of future generations.

Background-

  • Food Safety and Standards Act.2006 clearly states that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.

  • Notification of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Regulation, 2011 mandates that a food product shall not contain any substance which may be injurious to health and tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food product.

  • After the FSS notification about 14 states beginning with Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan etc, banned chewing tobacco zarda, khaini and other flavoured and processed chewing tobacco.

  • In 2013, following the Supreme Court’s direction, gutka was banned in all the States. Besides gutka, 11 States also banned chewing tobacco over a period of time and 3 three States: Maharashtra, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh  have banned flavoured areca nut too. But the areca nut and pan masalas which also contains areca nut have not banned by many states.

Why there is need of ban all forms of tobacco products-

  • According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, functioning under the WHO, areca nut have potential to cause cancer (carcinogenic) to humans. In India areca nut is the second most consumed carcinogen (cancer causing substance) after tobacco.

  • Also many of the flavouring items used in pan masala and a cunning mix of natural products and chemicals, are dangerous substances.

  • The number of smokeless tobacco users in India is alarmingly high at 206 million, as estimated in an August 2012 paper in The Lancet. And the number of oral cancer deaths caused by chewing tobacco is alarmingly high.

What’s next? (Suggestions)

  • All the state governments should ban the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco: scented, flavoured and mixed, sold in forms such as gutka, pan masala, khaini and zarda.

  • And banning is the only solution, state governments should effectively implement the ban, so that tobacco products won’t be sold illegally.  Also government should make awareness campaign against tobacco with more efficiently and effectively.

  • Central government should also amend FSS act to extend the scope of act to include areca nut and thereby ban the sale of pan masala in India.

Conclusion-

Oral cancer deaths due to these tobacco related products in India are very high, hence it’s time to both central and state governments need to take drastic steps against these products.


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