After Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flip-flop on banning flavored supari (areca nut), Girish Bapat, Cabinet Minister for Food and Drugs Administration has said the government is considering making the sale of flavoured supari a non-bailable offence. He gave this information while answering a question in the legislative council which is under proceeding for its monsoon session.
The opposition raised the issue of flavoured supari in the Vidhan Sabha today. Congress MLA, Sanjay Dutt demanded a ban on flavoured supari (areca nut). Later, Girish Bapat informed the house about the measures undertaken by the state government to control the sale of flavoured supari.
“The ban on flavoured supari has not been lifted. A notification has been issued which informs about this decision. Now, we are considering making the sale of flavoured supari a non-bailable offence. We are consulting legal experts on this issue and the final decision will be taken after consultations,” Girish Bapat said in assembly.
In an article published on July 22, My Medical Mantra had highlighted how the FDA’s decision to allow the sale of flavoured supari was a major setback to the on-going anti-tobacco campaign. A week after FDA Maharashtra rolled back its order and decided to continue with the ban for the next six months. The state government has appointed a one-member committee to look into the ban which was imposed on flavoured supari in 2012.
While the government is considering making the sale of flavoured supari a non-bailable offence, experts are unsatisfied with this move.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital said, “There should be a permanent ban on flavoured chewing tobacco and supari. The government should bring in legislation to ban it permanently. Assam has done a similar exercise. The yearly ban on these products is a precarious exercise subject to the motivation of political leadership. Needless to say that enforcement of even the existing notification is far from satisfactory.”
In 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) had classified areca nut or betel nut as a carcinogen to humans even without the addition of tobacco to it.