The Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the sale of ‘kharra’ even as it renewed the ban on manufacture and sale of tobacco and scented supari for another year.
Kharra, a combination of tobacco, arecanut, lime (chuna) and katechu (katha) has different names. It is popular in the Vidharbha region and also in cities like Pune, Nagpur and Mumbai.
Dr Harshdeep Kamble, commissioner, FDA, who issued the ban under Section 30(2)(a) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 told The Indian Express that there will be a complete ban on sale of manufactured chewing tobacco with additives like kharra and mawa.
He cited a study conducted at Government Dental College, Nagpur in 2014-15, where a medical examination of 6,498 women attached to a Self-Help Group had found that 32% of women had symptoms of pre-oral cancer. As per the report dated May 15, consumption of gutka and kharra increases the chances of oral cancer, Kamble said.
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He further pointed out that since flavoured/scented tobacco was not freely available in the market due to the prohibition order, they also noticed that the consumption of manufactured chewing tobacco with additives was on the rise and it was available in attractive packets and marketed very aggressively. Hence they decided that along with gutka/paanmasala, scented/flavoured tobacco and scented/flavoured arecanuts, such manufactured chewing tobacco with additives should also be prohibited, he added.
According to a 2014 report prepared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on economic burden of tobacco-related diseases, the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use in Maharashtra amounted to Rs 2,290 crores in 2011 for persons aged 35-69, of which 62% was direct medical costs and 38% indirect costs. The economic cost for all diseases due to tobacco use was higher in males except for cancers and tuberculosis where the collective cost in females due to smokeless tobacco was higher at Rs 70.4 crores (compared to Rs 35.6 crore for males). Experts like Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital pointed out that lime increases the carcinogenesis and addictiveness of both supari and tobacco and a ban on kharra will go a long way in curbing the epidemic of mouth cancer.
‘MENACE DUE TO GUTKHA, NOT TOBACCO’
Sharad More, president of Pune district Paan Vyapari Sangh pointed out that the menace was due to gutkHa and not tobacco. “This ban will affect our business,” he claimed.
Ajit Suryavanshi, president of state Paan Vyapari Sangh said that they had welcomed the ban on gutkHa, but now the state instead of banning cigarettes, is disrupting the livelihood of five-and-a-half lakh paan-sellers and traders.
Hemang Shah, technical advisor of Maharashtra Paan Vyapari Mahasangh, said: “First the government should ensure a total ban on cigarettes as smoking is known to cause cancer. At least 60 -70 per cent of those who want to chew paan want tobacco in it. Gutkha is bad, but why pick on tobacco,” he said, adding that that a meeting will be held soon to plan an agitation.