During the launch of a new tobacco control campaign, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Additional Secretary K Desairaju addressed the mass gathering and said, “We are in the process of sending a notification to states. The SC in a case on gutkha packaging had observed that gutkha is food. We are awaiting a final SC ruling in the matter, but our stand is that if gutkha is food and as per the Food Safety and Standards Act it is illegal to mix harmful things in food, then tobacco and zarda, which are known harmful items, should not be mixed in food. This is what we will tell the states."
Meanwhile, Under section 2(v) of the PFA Act, pan masala, gutkha or supari are considered eatable products and are eaten for taste and nourishment.
"The menace of smokeless tobacco is unique to India, and is especially prevalent among women. So we have our own ways of tackling the problem. This does not in any way mean that we are going slow on cigarettes, but this is a focus area," Desairaju said.
The Ministry has already taken action against the gutkha industry by making it compulsory to carry statutory health warnings on the gutkha packets.
The Supreme Court had ruled that it can only be packed in plastic pouches to make sure that there are no metallic contaminants.