50% gutka products flouting SC order on plastic packet ban

Almost 50% of gutka/paan masala products across eight states of the country are still being sold in plastic packets in violation of a Supreme

Court order.

More than five months after the ban on the use of plastic pouches on tobacco products that came into effect from March 1 following the apex court verdict, all the small and big manufacturers of chewing tobacco and pan masala have been found to be flouting the rule openly as found by a recent survey.

The SC order stated that manufacturers of gutka, tobacco and pan masala are restrained from using plastic material in the sachets.

The survey was conducted by Voluntary Health Association of India and eight other partner organizations in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. The surveyors visited 100 shops and found that brands like Pan Bahar, Rajnigandha, Shikhar Gutka, Kamla Pasand Tiranga, Baba 120, Baba 160, Vimal, Bombay 1,000, Bandar Brand Tobacco, Swagat Gold Gutka were all packaged in plastic material.

Other brands such as Miraj, Bahar, Miraj, Shikhar Premium, Kuber, Mama Gutka, Raja Chap Khaini, Pan Parag Power Gutka are using packets that has paper outside and plastic layer inside.

At times, the thickness of the plastic is very less, and difficult to separate the plastic layer and paper.

There were several brands that were newly packed and available in plastic packaging, but the manufacturer are not printing the manufacturing date/batch number so that they can flout the law easily.

All the samples that were collected were purchased at a higher rate of 50% to 100% of the MRP. When the vendors were asked about it, they said that they are purchasing it for a higher rate from the supplier, which shows that there is black marketing of the products.

After the environment ministry’s ban on plastic packaging for tobacco products, the health ministry’s food safety & standards authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a notification stating that no food article shall contain tobacco or nicotine in the products, effective from August 5.

The global adult tobacco survey (GATS 2010) revealed that nearly one-third of Indian population use smokeless tobacco.

India has the highest number of oral cancer in the world with 75, 000 to 80, 000 new cases of oral cancers a year. Gutka and other forms of chewing tobacco sold in small pouches across the country has become a very serious health hazard. Since gutka and pan masala are marketed as mouth fresheners, its habit starts at a very young age.

“Due to its flavoured taste, easy availability and low price, it is popular among children, youth and women. Gutka use is becoming an alternative choice in India as our social mores do not permit children or women to smoke cigarettes” the survey said.

A recent report by experts of the national institute of health and family welfare (NIHFW) on the harmful effects of gutka says the number of oral cancer cases in India alone is 86% of the oral cancer figures across the world. What’s more shocking is that the chewing tobacco and gutka contribute to 90% of oral cancer cases in the country.


Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com