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Ban on sale of gutka, pan masala extended in Assam? Demand goes louder

In Assam, smokeless tobacco users are three times that of smoked tobacco users

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GUWAHATI: The Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum (CLPF), Assam demanded to extend the prohibition order in the manufacture, storage, transportation, distribution or sale of Gutka, Pan Masala or any chewing materials, etc. (by whatsoever name) containing tobacco and/or nicotine as ingredients available in the market in Assam.

The ongoing prohibition order for a period of one year will expire on November 22.

A CLPF delegation on Friday met Monalisa Goswami, Commissioner and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department who is in the charge of Commissioner of Food Safety, Assam and submit a memorandum on it and demanded to extend the prohibition for another year.

Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, secretary of CLPF, said, “In present Covid-19 epidemic situation, use of tobacco products is one of the most vulnerable parts as aware by WHO, ICMR, Government of India and Assam government.”

Backing CLPF demand, Munindra Narayan Baruah, Managing Director, North East Cancer Hospital & Research Institute, Guwahati said, “Out of 39,000 new cancer cases that are reported in the northeast every year, Assam alone contributes 29,000 cases. Assam became the hub of Cancer largely due to higher consumption of tobacco.”

Records highlighted that Assam has an average tobacco consumption of 48.2% vis a vis the national average of 28.6%; which is almost double of the national average. 41.7% of people use smokeless tobacco in some form vis a vis 13.3% of users of smoked tobacco.

In Assam, smokeless tobacco users are three times that of smoked tobacco users. Nearly 8-9 lakh people die in India due to tobacco use every year. Each year over 80 lakh people die worldwide because of tobacco usage in one form or the other. More than 70 lakh of these deaths are due to direct tobacco usage.

In Assam, 25.3% of men, 0.8% of women and 13.3% of all adults currently smoke tobacco. 50.5% of men and 32.5% of women and 41.7% of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco.