Guwahati: The much hyped one year ban on gutkha in the state of Assam by the state government has put gutkha companies in a fix fearing great loss. But the very nature of the ban raises several questions about the government’s seriousness to put an effective full sop to the purchase and consumption of gutkha.
Earlier, on November 26, a prohibitory order was issues by the Food Safety Department where under Regulation 2,3,4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011 R/W Section 26 of Food safety and Standards Act, 2006, prohibits food in which tobacco or nicotine are used as ingredients, as they are injurious to human health.
However, strangely the notification does not spell out the penalty for violation. After the Supreme Court order in 2012 on complete ban on sale of gutkha various state governments have followed suit but various research indicate that rampant sale of the product is on despite the order.
Companies, however, are following the government orders and are not “officially” producing, selling or marketing gutkha in the states where the product is banned.
Interestingly, the companies are already adopting a new way of selling their products by cleverly bypassing the ban. Instead of the earlier “ready to consume mixes,” companies are now selling gutkha in a new avatar – chewing tobacco and paan masala are now sold in separate sachets.