A routine notification issued on October 25 by commissioner of food safety Tapan Kanti Rudra of health and family welfare department, banning gutkha, khaini and pan masala across Bengal, went viral in the social media with a demand of stringent implementation. The public opinion has now forced the government to think of its enforcement.
The ban is routinely notified around this time for one year and it is violated openly. But ever since the ban was issued this year, citizens are questioning the relevance of such notification, when it is violated every day.
The notice said that Regulation 2, 3 and 4 of Food Safety and Standards (prohibition and restriction on sales) Regulation 2011 made by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, prohibits manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of articles of food in which tobacco and nicotine are used as ingredients.
“We are already in talks with cops on how to enforce the ban effectively,” said sources in health and family welfare department. “The hype is necessary. At least this will generate some awareness. But it’s high time the government puts a blanket ban on gutkha, khaini and paan masala, which accounts for 30% of cancer burden in India, particularly in Bengal,” said head and neck oncologist Saurabh Datta.
The estimated economic cost of diseases attributed to tobacco use stands at Rs 1,04,500 crore, which is 1.2% of the GDP.
West Bengal is one of the 24 states where the ban is in place on paper since 2013 and is issued once annually. The total economic cost attributed to tobacco use in West Bengal amounted to Rs 3440 crore.
Source: Times of India