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Ban on sale of gutka comes into force in State

Bangalore, May 31, 2013, DHNS: 10:31 IST

Cong MLAs from areca-growing areas oppose the move

The Karnataka government on Friday announced the ban on the manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of gutka and pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine, as ingredients in the interest of public health in the State.

An order dated May 30, Office of the Food Safety Commissioner stated that Section 92 of the Centre's Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, prohibits articles of food containing tobacco and nicotine which are used as ingredients, as they are injurious to health.

“And whereas, gutka and panmasala are articles of food in which tobacco and nicotine are widely used as ingredients...And whereas, it is expedient to prohibit gutka and panmasala in the entire State of Karnataka,” the order stated.

The government has entrusted the responsibility of effective implementation of the ban with the commissioner of Food Safety. The commissioner will soon frame rules for its implementation.

The ruling Congress faced opposition to the ban from its own MLAs, mostly from the arecanut-growing areas of the Malnad region, at the Legislature party meeting convened on Friday.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakara, who represents Thirtahalli constituency, was the first to speak about the ban. He said the government should have consulted arecanut growers and taken them into confidence before imposing the ban.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, defended the move saying that arecanut growers will not be affected. “The Supreme Court has directed all states to ban gutka. Hence, the government has no choice but to follow the apex court direction,” he said.

“It is not our decision. We are following the Supreme Court’s order. Otherwise we will have to face contempt of court proceedings,” he added.

He said 20 states had already banned gutka. The government, he said, will protect the interest of arecanut growers. “There is no ban on areca. Other products of areca that do not contain tobacco can still be sold,” he said.

Addressing reporters at the Nimhans convention centre, Health minister U T Khader said: “The government is committed to providing sufficient healthcare to the people of Karnataka. This decision should have been taken two years ago, but we are glad that it has finally been implemented.”

Food Safety Commissioner V B Patil said: “Many people believe that this decision was taken in a hurry. But the department and the government have deliberated over the issue for many days before arriving at this conclusion.”

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