BARELY A week after the Punjab government issued a notification for lifting the ban on manufacture of tobacco products in the state, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday rolled back the decision.
On January 1, Punjab food safety commissioner, Hussan Lal, had issued a notification “lifting” the ban on manufacture of gutkha, paan masala, processed/flavoured/ scented chewing tobacco and other products containing tobacco and nicotine. The decision was being seen as taken keeping in mind the interests of tobacco manufacturers.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet, in 2012, reported that India accounts for 206 million smokeless tobacco users.
The notification read, “There will be no ban on manufacture of the above mentioned tobacco products in the state if the manufacturers give an undertaking that the products will not be sold/made available in Punjab or other state where there is a ban on these tobacco products.” However, the notification had prohibited storage, sale and distribution across the state for one year.
Badal directed the health department to take immediate steps to ensure a blanket ban on manufacture of gutkha, paan
masala and other processed/flavoured/ scented chewing tobacco and any other food products containing tobacco.
The government spokesperson mentioned that the ban had been issued as the sale is in violation of Section 7 of the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products, Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003). Section 7 prohibits any trade or commerce in cigarettes or any other tobacco product unless every pack of cigarettes or any other tobacco product sold, supplied or distributed carries specified warning including pictorial warning.
It was on August 27, 2012, that the Punjab government extended the ban on manufacture, storage and sale of tobacco products to the entire state after initially banning sale and consumption of Pan Masala and Gutkha in four districts. On May 31, 2015, on World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation had honoured the Punjab government for its campaign to curb tobacco use.
After the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in 2011 framed rules making it clear that tobacco and nicotine will not be used as ingredients in food products, a number of states had put ban on manufacture, storage and sale of tobacco products.