From Monday, no sale of chewing tobacco in Delhi

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Friday issued a notification banning the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco including gutkha, khaini and zarda in the national capital.

The move comes after a review by the AAP government of the implementation of the ban, which revealed that it was not effective due to various factors, one of them being the lack of clarity about some clauses of the notification.

“We have decided to come up with a notification to ban chewable tobacco in all forms from Monday in Delhi. Under this, no one will be allowed to sell, purchase or store chewable tobacco,” said state health minister Satyendar Jain.

He said enforcement teams of Delhi Police and the health department have been asked to conduct surprise inspections across the city to ensure that the ban is implemented.

However, no such ban will be enforced on cigarettes.

Health department officials said there was a Delhi government notification in September 2012, which was in pursuance of a series of directions from the Supreme Court to ban gutkha in the city. But since the ban mentioned the term “gutkha”, the tobacco retailers started selling the components of gutkha (betel nut and raw tobacco) in separate pouches. So, the purpose of banning gutkha was not served.

Last year, the health department started with a new proposal to ban all the raw chewable tobacco products in Delhi, a senior official said.

According to officials, gutkha is also being supplied to retailers in Delhi from neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Stepping up its efforts towards tobacco control, the health department has also launched an innovative drive, creating a “Tobacco Aware Citizens’ Directory” to spread the word about its harmful effects.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck surgeon at Tata Memorial hospital said, banning chewing tobacco alone will serve the purpose only partly. “Like Maharashtra, the Delhi government should also ban paan masala, which is surrogate of chewing tobacco,” he said.

In Delhi, surveys reveal, nearly 10.5% adults (16.7% of males and 2.8% of females) consume smokeless tobacco products. “Enforcement is key issue. Also, we need to check surrogate ads,” said another doctor.

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