Police authorities have called for allocation of powers to tackle the gutkha ban. Bhanupratap Barge,senior inspector at the social security cell said there were frequent clashes between the FDA and police pertaining to taking action. At times,he said,precious time is wasted when cops have to wait for the FDA officials during panchnama process.
Notification on the gutkha ban is awaited. Most manufacturers have moved their production units to Karnataka and other states. Hence,we will have to maintain a vigil to check smuggling of the packets in the state, Barge said. He also stressed that all the states in the country need to ban gutkha if smuggling is to be stopped.
Sanjay Shinde,deputy commissioner of police (Cyber Crime and Economic Offences Wing) said,In the past one year,we have registered 21 cases against hookah parlours. We have also cracked down on illegal sale of gutkha. We took action based on tip-offs or complaints that we received.
As per the existing laws,even principals of schools and colleges have adequate powers. But we will wait for the detailed notification on the latest decision on the ban. We need to know which agency has the power of taking action. Police will play their role as designated by the government.
When contacted,Patil said the notification will be issued soon.
FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade said a state-level action plan was being prepared. The initiative to ban gutkha and paan masala is significant and several organisations and individuals,including Minister of State for Home Satej Patil,Tata Memorial Hospital doctors like Pankaj Chaturvedi and Pune-based Dr Kalyan Gangwal,have played a big role,he said.
According to Patil,gutkha ban will not only save 85 lakh lives but also billions of rupees that are otherwise spent on treatment of health issues related to consumption of gutkha.
Gutkha,paan masala and tobacco-based products are posing serious health problems in Maharashtra. While paan masala is predominantly composed of areca nut (supari),gutkha is a combination of smokeless tobacco and areca nut. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,in 2010,1.7 crore Maharashtrians above 18 years of age were consuming smokeless tobacco. According to WHO,every second tobacco user dies prematurely.