Requesting amendment in Smoking and Spitting Act 2002
The Hon’ble Chief Minister,
State of Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister’s Office
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009
Sub: To enforce the ban of Chewable, Gutka, Pan masala and Unmanufactured Tobacco Products within the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act 2002.
The Government of Tamil Nadu has been taking remarkable initiatives to bring down tobacco consumption in the State. The previously released reports of GATS 1&2 has been a major driving factor behind such initiatives. With the proactive intervention of the State Government and other like-minded representatives and organizations, the year of 2022 underwent a series of significant amendments and efforts to reduce the incidence of tobacco sales and consumption in the State. Some of the major ones were the Drive Against Drugs programme, renewal of the Food Safety (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, expansion of the District Tobacco Control Cells to more districts, the recently passed bill of Hookah bar ban etc.
Amidst all the efforts taken at the State and at the local level, certain happenings in and around Tamil Nadu is pacifying those progressive leaps made. The recent Order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court legalizing ‘unmanufactured tobacco’ in the State is one of them. This Order was with reference to the case filed by the owners of four tobacco manufacturing companies in Madurai district; against the closure of these companies made by the Food Safety Department of Tamil Nadu, stating that the company violated the provisions of Food Safety (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Act.
Studies state that the chewable, gutka, pan masala and unmanufactured tobacco products is considered as extremely harmful within the tobacco spectrum, and is a major reason for causing oral cancers in India. The State of Tamil Nadu has displayed significant increase in the prevalence of smokeless tobacco among adults and children (GATS 1&2). Hence, considering the gravity of the issue, bringing up such Orders can have serious impact in the State and can terribly weaken the tobacco control mechanisms in the State.
Therefore, discussions and deliberations are very much needed to tackle this issue. Court Orders legalizing ‘unmanufactured tobacco’ may overtime weaken other related tobacco-regulations such as the chewable, gutka and pan masala products ban under the Food Safety (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Act. This regulation being an annually renewed Order, there are chances for this ban to be revoked any time. The recent Delhi High Court Order of lifting the Gutka ban is one such instance. In order to avoid these circumstances in the State, the only way forward is to include the regulation within the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act 2002. The latest NCRB report of 2021 mentions about the 46,458 cases on tobacco control violations reported under the Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act of 2002. Hence, enforcing the regulation under this Act can be effective in making the enforcement permanent and thereby lessening chances for the ban to get temporarily lifted.
The annual renewal of the Gutka Ban Order has been vested with the Commissioner of Food Safety, Tamil Nadu. Since this is a grave cause to be addressed by the State Government, and to ensure the sustainability of the regulation, on behalf of all the tobacco control advocates we request to enforce the ban on chewable, gutka, pan masala and unmanufactured tobacco products in the state under the Smoking and Spitting Act, 2002.
#PERMANENTBAN #BANCHEWABLETOBACCO #BANGUTKA #BANPANMASALA #BANUNMANUFACTURED TOBACCO
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