People selling gutka illegally are set to come under scrutiny as the state government has proposed to the Legislative Council that its sale will be a non-bailable offence
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde alleged through a calling attention motion that though anti-gutka laws are in place, gutka- a scented tobacco mix – is smuggled from neighbouring states
During the discussion in the legislative council , Minister of State for FDA Madan Yerawar said gutka is manufactured in other states where it is not banned, and the Maharashtra FDA, since 2012-13, has seized gutka worth Rs 114.2 crore.
Munde said, even though the sale and production of gutka is banned in Maharashtra, it still has the highest number of youth falling prey to cancer due to chewing of gutka. He demanded a CID inquiry into continuing sale of gutka despite the ban.
FDA minister Girish Bapat said that currently the sale of gutka is a bailable offence with a punishment of a maximum of six months in prison.
An inquiry by the vigilance squad of the FDA is underway into illegal sale of gutka, and the government will order a CID probe if the Leader of Opposition is still not satisfied with its report when it comes out, Bapat assured.
The government has held discussions with the Director General of Police and the Law and Judiciary Department, and will make the offence non-bailable.
Speaking about the state government’s move, Dr Pritam Chandak, Consultant Psychiatrist said, “More than making the laws it’s the implementation at the ground level which is more important! In spite of the previous ban you can still easily get the tobacco products at will in Maharashtra.”
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2 report, in India, 199 million use smokeless tobacco, 100 million smoke tobacco and 32 million.
- Among the area of concerns that GATS report highlighted was 68% of smokers, 17% of bidi smokers, and 50% of smokeless tobacco users purchase loose tobacco.
- The study said in all the three countries, smoking prevalence declined (by 6% in Bangladesh, 3% in India and 7% in Nepal) but SLT use increased (by 3% in Bangladesh, 6% in India and 4% in Nepal) over the study period. SLT use increased irrespective of whether the total tobacco use increased or decreased.
- The share of SLT as a percentage of total tobacco use increased from 15% to 19% among Bangladeshi men, from 46% to 61% in India and from 29% to 41% in Nepal.