Interview in today’s Times of India, on gutka ban….

Gutka ban in Gujarat effective from today

Ahmedabad: A comprehensive ban on production and sale of gutka will come into effect in Gujarat on Tuesday, as per the notification issued by the state government. Chief minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day address, had announced complete ban on gutka from September 11.
However, there is a catch in the notification issued: sale of gutka will be prohibited, but one would be free to sell separately tobacco, beetle nut and lime separately.
The ban as per provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 would initially be for one year, Gujarat’s Commissioner of Food Safety Dr H G Koshia had said.
Any violation of ban would attract at least six months of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, according to the notification. However, the prohibition would not be applicable in respect of 100 per cent export oriented units. The ban will also not be applicable to pan masala. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey of India 2009-10 revealed that 35 per cent adults use tobacco in some form or other, out of which 21 per cent were found to be consuming smokeless tobacco (like gutka). As per this survey, smokeless tobacco use is more prevalent in Gujarat with 18.4 per cent of the adult population addicted to it. The Maharashtra government had recently imposed a ban on gutka and pan masala. Some other states like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar had also followed suit. Times View
Gutka may have been banned in Gujarat, but not the separate ingredients it is made of. Effectively, addicts in Gujarat – the unofficial mouth cancer capital of the country – may still be able to consume this deadly tobacco preparation without breaking the law. The positive aspect of the ban, however, is that gutka will no longer be easily available in pouches, restricting access to vulnerable groups, like children. Gutka ban will spur improvised addictions Radha Sharma TNN
Ahmedabad: On Tuesday morning, Ramanlal Darbar will not empty a gutka sachet in his mouth after breakfast. Instead, he got himself a packet of flavoured tobacco, betelnut and a bottle of lime water which he will mix himself and use as a substitute for his addiction.
“I have been eating tenodd gutka sachets a day for the last five years. All of a sudden I gave it up. I will switch to tobacco,” says Darbar candidly.
Anita Maratha on the other hand, bought herself a cache of gutka sachets which will last her three days or so. “Then I intend to give it up. I am not rich enough to buy tobacco packets. They are too expensive. Eating gutka used to give me a kick between work at different homes. I know I’ll feel miserable but it’s good. I’ll get rid of this addiction,” says Anita who works as a domestic help in Satellite.
Experts say that the next week will be challenging for lakhs of people addicted to gutka, which includes men, women and even children.
“Gutka addiction is stronger than smoking. Withdrawal symptoms will include intense cravings, irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches, anxiety and even depression. If a person is mentally strong and has decided to brave these, things should normalize within 10-20 days and he or she will be free of the addiction,” says psychiatrist Dr Hansal Bhachech.
Dr Bhachech however sees a greater possibility of especially men turning to other tobacco alternatives available in the market.
“People can buy tobacco and mix it themselves to form their own concoction. Many who are highly addicted are more likely to turn to other options. Women and children may be forced to give it up, as tobacco in its raw form is not as user-friendly as a sachet of processed gutka,” said Dr Bhachech.

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