Kerala government on Friday announced a complete ban on the manufacturing and sale of gutka products in the state and has become the second state to impose the ban after Madhya Pradesh.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, in a press conference on Friday, said the state government has imposed the ban on both manufacturing and sale of gutka/pan masala under the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Regulation Act, 2011.
"We are banning these products for the improvement of public health. Even though our state has a lot of advanced health centres and experts for cancer care, the use of gutka has brought a lot of suffering to the people of the state. The number of patients ailing from oral cancer has increased and this compelled us to act," Chandy said.
The government was forced to take such actions because of the increasing incidence of gutka-induced diseases like oral cancer. Chandy said that the health department took the banning step immediately and the Commissioner of Food Safety issued the notification, banning gutka/pan masala in Kerala on May 22.
The government would strictly impose the ban all over the state and will take strong action against people who are found violating it. "Violators of the law can be imprisoned for up to six years and a fine of Rs.500,000 (5 lakh rupees) will be imposed on them," Chandy said.
The ban forbids the production, storage, supply and the sale of products that contain tobacco and nicotine in whatever name it is obtainable in the market.
"A special official has been designated in each district who would be assisted by a team to see that the ban is enforced in the right manner," he said.
Chandy also said in the press conference that he has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for a total ban on these products in the country.