Bihar extends ban on tobacco items for one year2 min read
PATNA: The food safety wing of state health department has extended the ban on the manufacture, sales and distribution of products containing tobacco and nicotine for one more year with effect from May 21.
A notice was issued by principal secretary (health) and food safety commissioner Sanjay Kumar in this regard on Tuesday. The ban applies on tobacco, pan masala, zarda, gutka and other tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners, whether packed or loose.
“In the Global Audit Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2010, more than 200 million Indians were reported consuming tobacco, which resulted in higher incidents of oral cancer in India. In that backdrop, the state government in 2012 banned the sales and manufacture of gutka. But later, in 2014, the Patna high court stayed the ban order. The case is pending in the Supreme Court,” a health department official said and added that the second survey of GATS in 2016-17 revealed a steep decline in tobacco consumption by Indians.
“According to Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products. It has come to the notice of state health department that the prohibited substances like tobacco and gutka are available for sales across the state despite ban on it. Thus, apart from the annual extension of prohibition orders, the state food safety department is also going to conduct an enforcement drive under which the food security officials will collect samples of different brands from retailers and wholesalers for test in laboratories for further investigation,” executive director of Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS) Deepak Mishra said.
“After testing these samples based on the rules notified in the food security norms, strict action will be taken against companies in case of discrepancies found in the ingredients,” he added.
“The decision was taken in view of the expiry of similar order on May 21, 2017, wherein it was declared to circumvent ban of sales of tobacco and nicotine as the manufacturers are selling pan masala and flavoured tobacco as separate products in the market,” Mishra said.