SC strengthens gutkha ban, says stop the sale of all chewable tobacco
New Delhi Sep 23, 2016: : The Hon`ble Supreme Court on September 23 while hearing the appeal filed by the manufacturers of pan masala, gutkha and chewing tobacco(zarda) against the State Government Notifications issued under the FSSAI Regulations banning pan masala, gutkha and chewing tobacco(zarda), directed the Chewing Tobacco Manufacturers to strictly comply with Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation, 2011, notified on 1st August, 2011 by FSSAI, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

The said Regulation 2.3.4 mandates prohibition and restriction on sale of food products having tobacco and nicotine as its ingredients and inter-alia bans food products such as gutkha, pan masala, zarda, and other forms of chewing tobacco etc., for having tobacco and nicotine as its ingredients.

The Hon`ble Supreme Court on a plea from the Ld. Amicus Curiae Sh. Gopal Subramaniam, who said that the manufacturers of chewing tobacco are circumventing the supreme court`s direction to implement gutkha ban by selling the same product in twin pouches, the Amicus also stated that he is speaking for millions of users of chewing tobacco who are not before this court but our suffering (being afflicted with numerous disease) due to products manufactured by the petitioners.

The Ld. Amicus along with Govt Advocate Sh. Ajit Sinha, brought to the notice of the court para 21 of Govt Affidavit, that stated:

“It is most respectfully submitted that to circumvent the ban on the sale of gutkha, the manufacturers are selling pan masala (without tobacco) with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets but often conjoint and sold together by the same vendors from the same premises, so that consumers can buy the pan masala and flavoured chewing tobacco and mix them both and consume the same. Hence instead of the earlier “ready to consume mixes”, chewing tobacco companies are selling gutkha in twin packs to be mixed as one.”

The Hon`ble Supreme Court taking note of the above submissions in the order and also attempts of chewing tobacco companies to circumvent the court`s orders by selling same product in two pouches, has directed the concerned food safety officers to ensure strict enforcement of the above Regulation 2.3.4., and file a compliance report by 9th November 2016.
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