West Bengal extends ban on gutkha containing tobacco

20.3% of adult population is using chewable tobacco products in State, say activists

The West Bengal Government has extended ban on the manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of gutkha and panmasala containing tobacco and nicotine by another year from November 7.

The order, issued by the office of the Commissioner of Food Safety, said the reason for the ban is that gutkha and panmasala are “articles of food in which tobacco and/or nicotine are used as ingredients” and may be injurious to health.

The State Government has been extending the ban on all products containing tobacco and nicotine since 2013. Organisations campaigning against tobacco use pointed out that about 20.3% of adult population is using chewable tobacco products in West Bengal.

“While the cigarette consumption has come down, the use of chewable tobacco including gutkha has remained almost same,” said Niirmalya Mukherjee, director MANT (Manbhum Anandashram Nityananda Trust), an NGO advocating restrictions on the sale of tobacco.

Mr. Mukherjee said the survey carried by MANT has pointed that a section of vendors selling gutkha containing tobacco is not even aware of the ban. Shops and commercial establishments across Kolkata are seen selling gutkha containing tobacco products.

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