Backed by a WHO report on how the ban of gutka in India has dramatically brought down the usage to 49 percent, doctors in India vouch for a similar ban on cigarettes now to make the country less vulnerable to oral cancer, that is plaguing the users of tobacco products.
The study conducted by the World Health Organisation along with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that the consumption of gutka has decreased by 49% owing to its unavailability but added that gutka addicts know where it is available and the black marketing was still not under strict enforcement.
Nata Menabde, India Representative of WHO said that these “findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern.”
The study, conducted in Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Pradesh and Delhi, has revealed that the 92% supported gutka ban and almost 99% agreed that gutka ban was good for the Indian youth.
India has world’s largest number of gutka or other smokeless tobacco consumers and nearly one million people die anually in India due to tobacco consumption. Due to the ban, an addict who consumed 10 packets a day, is now managing to use at the most two packets per day or they are using loose tobacco, mixed with zarda and paan masalas, to make up for the shortfall, said the report.
Now that the state ban was successful on smokeless tobacco, the government is pondering the ban on cigarettes now. The first move came early this month when a ban on sale of loose cigarettes was mooted but it met with some resistance in parliament that the government has deferred the decision for now.
But the government has accepted a new tougher framework for tobacco sale like selling it those aged 25 years and above or not to sell loose cigarettes but only in packets, thus effectively denying youth from buying cigarettes.
Defending the move Union Health minister J P Nadda told the Rajya Sabha that the ministry had accepted the suggestions made by the expert committee on “prohibition on sale of loose or single stick of cigarette, increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products, increasing the fine or penalty amounts for violation of certain provisions of the Act as well as making such offences cognizable”.
Despite resistance from the tobacco manufacturers, the government is reliably learnt to have advised them to venture out in other industries as the eventual ban on cigarettes is possible in a decade from now.