|Extension of prohibition on pan masala, gutkha demanded|
GUWAHATI, Nov 21 - The Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam (CLPF) has demanded to extend the prohibition order in manufacture, storage, transportation, distribution or sale of pan masala, gutkha or any chewing materials etc., containing tobacco and nicotine as ingredients available in the markets of Assam.
A delegation of the Forum met Commissioner and Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department Monalisa Goswami on Friday and submitted a memorandum in this regard.
Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam stated that the Commissioner of Food Safety, Assam had issued a notification last year on November 22 and prohibited the manufacture, storage, transportation, distribution or sale of gutkha, pan masala or any chewing materials etc., containing tobacco and nicotine.
“The government should extend this prohibition period in the interest of public health. In the present COVID-19 pandemic situation, use of tobacco products is a serious health hazard,” he said.
The forum demanded to extend the previous prohibition order which will expire on November 22, 2020 for a period of one year more.
Supporting CLPF’s demand, Managing Director of the North East Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Guwahati Dr Munindra Narayan Baruah said, “Out of 39,000 new cancer cases that are reported in the North-East every year, Assam alone contributes 29,000 cases. Assam has become a hub of cancer largely due to excessive consumption of tobacco.”
“The state has an average tobacco consumption of 48.2 per cent, higher than the national average which stands at 28.6 per cent. Nearly, 41.7 per cent people use smokeless tobacco in some form or the other while 13.3 per cent users smoke tobacco. In Assam, smokeless tobacco users number three times the smoked tobacco users. Nearly 8 to 9 lakh people in India die due to tobacco use every year. Each year, over 80 lakh people die worldwide because of tobacco usage in one form or the other, of which more than 70 lakh deaths are due to direct tobacco usage”, he added.