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Ban on gutkha and pan masala stays

Patna: The food safety wing of the health department on Tuesday issued a notification banning manufacture, sale, storage, distribution and display of gutkha and pan masala (with tobacco and nicotine) for one year with effect from May 21.

Food inspector Mukeshji Kashyap said the food safety commissioner had issued a similar notification on May 21 last year, which expired on May 19, and thus the department came up with the new notification. Principal health secretary Sanjay Kumar said the department will take help of cops for the implementation of the order apart from engaging its own taskforce in the work.

"The motto is to create awareness as only this can reduce tobacco consumption, which can bring down cases of oral cancer further. That the level of awareness regarding harmful effects of tobacco consumption has increased among people can be gauged from the fact that tobacco use has declined in the state from 53.5 per cent to 25.9 per cent in the past seven years according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2)," he said.

The state had banned manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of gutkha for a year for the first time on May 31, 2012. In 2014, the government banned scented areca nut, scented tobacco (pan masala) and zarda. Tobacco companies had challenged the ban in Patna High Court. On December 23, 2014, an HC division bench had passed an interim order staying the state government's notification imposing the ban. The state then moved the Supreme Court and the case is pending.

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