Ten days after the state-wide ban on gutkha came into effect,the state Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has seized tobacco worth over Rs 9 lakh.
The goods were seized in Mumbai,Amravati,Nashik,Nagpur and parts of Pune division. Brands such as King Gutkha,Goa 1000 and Tiger Gutkha were seized.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Acts (FSSA),offenders can be fined Rs 25,000 up to Rs 2 lakh or face imprisonment of six months up to two years. During the initial drive,however,the inspectors will mainly issue warning notifications to owners of defaulting establishments.
Many of the vendors are still not aware of the ban. While the FDA has the authority to take action against the defaulters,as of now,we are trying to increase awareness among the vendors. So during the inspections,the food inspectors inform the vendors that selling gutkha in any form is a punishable offence. We conducted over 150 inspections in the Pune division over three days, said Dr Suresh Deshmukh,Assistant Commissioner (food),FDA.
Meanwhile,those who have been championing the cause of the gutkha ban,while welcoming the move,have asked the state government to come clear on the type of substance banned. Locally made substances containing tobacco and areca nut are widely consumed.
Tobacco consumption in any form is harmful. Awareness levels must increase among people so that they are able to recognise such potentially hazardous products, said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi,cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.
Devika Chadda,programme director of the Salaam Bombay Foundation that works against tobacco abuse among children,said the youth of the state will benefit highly from this ban. It is definitely a positive decision made by the government in the interest of childrens health. The challenge now is to ensure that the ban is implemented, she said.