Smokeless tobacco products will soon be pulled down from shelves across Karnataka.
The state health department on Saturday revealed that it is planning to impose a ban on the sale of smokeless tobacco products and loose cigarettes across the state, Deccan Herald reported.
An official from the health department confirmed the news to the media. "We will seek cabinet approval it on November 12," a source told The New Indian Express.
Smokeless tobacco is already banned in several states including Assam, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram, The Times of India reported.
Bihar government joined the move on Friday, 7 November on the occasion of National Cancer Awareness Day.
The Karnataka government's move comes about three months after the then Health Minister Harsh Vardhan proposed all states to impose a ban on chewing tobacco products.
Health experts across the state welcomed the new move. "Karnataka has a tobacco use rate of 28 per cent, and 20 per cent of this is chewing tobacco. If we don't control this now, there will be a cancer epidemic in the state," Dr Pragathi Hebbal, Advocacy officer at the Institute of Public Health (IPH), added to The New Indian Express.
Nearly 275 million people in India use tobacco. A survey conducted last year assessed that 26% of Indians used smokeless tobacco. It is estimated that tobacco will claim 1.5 million lives annually by the year 2020.
Smokeless Tobacco -- Different Forms
Following are some popular forms of smokeless tobacco in India as provided by the Tobacco Intervention Initiative (TII), which aims to build -up a "tobacco-free India":
- Paan masala
- Manipuri tobacco
- Chewing tobacco
Some Hidden Risks associated with Smokeless Tobacco
Data from the Medline Plus shows that smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine and is more harmful than cigarettes. According to the experts from the National Cancer Institute in US, smokeless tobacco is packed with 28 cancer-causing agents.
Following are some health risks cited by the health experts:
- Oral cancer
- Oesophageal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Heart disease
- Gum disease