October 12, 2017
Concerned about the sale of gutkha and pan masala despite a ban in Tamil Nadu and some other states and union territories, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed the commissioners of food safety to effectively implement the ban.
In a circular dated October 9, 2017, its Director Rajesh Singh said that it has come to FSSAI’s notice that the prohibited substances such as gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine as ingredients were available for sale in some states and UTs despite them having issued notifications banning the same.
Inviting the attention of the Supreme Court’s 2016 interim order directing the statutory authorities and secretaries of all states and UTs to file their affidavits on the issue of total compliance of the ban imposed on manufacturing and sale of these products, he urged the officials to take necessary measures to ensure compliance.
On the situation in TN, S Cyril Alexander, convenor of the Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control, said, “The presence of gutkha and pan masala in the state is common. Ever so, advertisements of pan masala products are seen and even higher officials in the government are alleged to have a role in the gutkha sale scam. With such high level of intrusion and prevalence, it is imperative that the state government adheres to the FSSAI circular.”
He said stronger enforcement is required for effective implementation of the prohibition of tobacco substances, which would protect children from their harmful effects.