Nearly a month after the state government announced a complete ban on manufacture and sale of chewing tobacco, the product is still available in the market.
The state government had submitted to the High Court of Karnataka earlier this month that it has banned all forms of chewing tobacco, including the flavoured and scented varieties. Yet, forms of tobacco including gutka and chewing tobacco are being sold in the open.
Speaking to DH, a senior member from the anti-tobacco lobby said that this could be attributed to lack of enforcement.
“While there are a few health officers to take care of the implementation, there is also lack of will. It is a Rs 5,000-crore business and none oppose it for various reasons,” added the member.
A top official from the Department of Health and Family Welfare said that the delay in implementation was due to objection raised by the arecanut growers’ association.
“They had approached the law department seeking that pan masala be exempted from the list and, the Health department had sought a clarification on the same. Henceforth, we would impose a ban only on pan masala sachets that contain tobacco or nicotine,” said the official.
As per the guidelines, teams would be constituted at district levels and powers would rest with the Food Safety Department and the police to enforce the ban.
Chewing tobacco has been banned under Section 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Security Act that states, “Product not to contain any substance which may be injurious to health:
Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.” The police can enforce the same under IPC Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and Section 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
Guidelines will also be issued on discarding the packets that have been seized. While the chewing tobacco would be incinerated, the sachets would be buried deep, officials said.