Gutkha, pan masala ban comes into effect in Maharashtra

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Gutkha, pan masala
Mumbai, Jul 20: The ban on gutkha and pan masala across Maharashtra came into effect from today. The state government today issued a notification banning the sale and consumption of gutkha and pan masala in the state.

It will be valid for a year, after which it will be extended for another 12 months. The state cabinet had decided on the ban last week. Figures show that gutkha was one of the major reasons for oral diseases such as cancer.

The sale of gutkha in the state is estimated to be around Rs 300 crore a month and the government earns more than Rs 100 crore in taxes on it every year.

The state had attempted to ban gutkha in 2002 and then in 2008, but encountered several legal hurdles. The new Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), which was passed last year, will facilitate the ban this time.

In 2010, the state banned the sale of gutkha and cigarettes within 100 metres of schools and colleges. The move to ban gutkha gained momentum after deputy chief minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar announced it at a public forum last month.

Pawar said the state would lose Rs 100 crore in tax from gutkha and pan masala but would not compromise on public health. States such as Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Bihar have already banned the sale of gutkha.

Maharashtra is among the highest users of tobacco in the country, with 43 per cent adult men and 19 per cent adult women addicted to it, as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey released last month.


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