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Delhi gets 2 wks to decide on gutkha ban

A plea has been made to ban oral tobacco products like ghutka,supari,pan masala and zarda.

Written by Jayant Sriram | New Delhi |
August 23, 2012 12:36:28 am

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the city government to examine and decide in two weeks a plea to ban oral tobacco products like ghutka,supari,pan masala and zarda in Delhi.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw gave the direction to the government,while disposing of a public interest litigation filed by Doctors For You,a registered society,which sought to ban oral tobacco products in view of the spurt in oral and lung cancer cases in the city. The court asked Doctors For You to approach the Delhi Government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with their plea.

Citing a media report of July 31,in which a Delhi minister had said the government should ban sale of tobacco products here,the bench asked the state to consider the plea as a representation and decide the same in two weeks. Appearing for the government,standing counsel Najmi Waziri said steps had already been taken on the issue and the state was ready to consider a representation.

Appearing for the Centre,Additional Solicitor General Rajiv Mehra told the bench that the government has written to various states to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act and some states had already banned the sale of oral tobacco products.

The petition said under the Food Safety and Standards Act,2006,the Centre had framed a regulation in 2011 empowering the state’s Food Safety Commissioner to ban tobacco products.

According to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations,2011 no product should contain any substance which may be injurious to health.

“Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products,” the regulation said.

A Supreme Court ruling had also stated that,“since pan masala,ghutka or supari are eaten for taste and nourishment,they are all food”.

According to the petition eight states — Madhya Pradesh,Kerala,Haryana,Bihar,Himachal Pradesh,Maharashtra,Rajasthan and Goa — had already banned the sale of ghutka in their respective territories.

The petition said according to a study by the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for South-East Asia’s on tobacco habits in Indian states,about 25 per cent of Delhi’s population consumes tobacco in some form.

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