Nagpur: Despite total ban on the sale and consumption of gutka, scented and flavoured tobacco in Maharashtra, rampant consumption of the life-threatening stuff is going on and the business is flourishing with no check in Nagpur. Raids or seizures are initiated by the FDA for the sake of action!! Since police have no authority to take action, the sale and consumption of hazardous tobacco in a big way is posing risks to the health of people.
Maharashtra Government, in 2012, had banned all forms of manufactured chewing tobacco, packaged or unpackaged, and whether sold as one product or otherwise. The ban has also been extended to all additives of chewing tobacco, including kharra and mawa. The government had made sale of gutka a non-bailable offence and enhanced the punishment for it from six months to three years.
According to sources, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), seized stocks of scented tobacco and other products worth Rs 282.87 crore in the year 2020-21. Total 6496 FIRs were registered and 6882 cases are pending in courts.
In the dubious trade, many bigwig traders are involved. The traders earlier used to deal in scented tobacco and its various products under licence. As there is no ban on flavoured tobacco in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat etc, these traders import the scented tobacco and its other products from the above named states to Nagpur. The banned stuff is sold in thousands of paan thelas across Nagpur in open mocking the ban and the authorities.
The inferior and spurious tobacco is filled in branded cans and sold indiscriminately in the open.
Recently, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court had held that a ban on gutkha and paan masala in Maharashtra cannot be extended to prohibit inter-state transport of the banned products through the state. The Court had, however, clarified that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) can examine and seize the consignments being transported across Maharashtra, in order to ensure that they are not offloaded in the state under the guise of inter-state transport.
The growing use of tobacco is a cause of great concern due to its serious effects on health. Non-communicable diseases like ischemic heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death globally and associated with tobacco use. Millions of people die due to such diseases.