Tamil Nadu bans chewing tobacco products

The Tamil Nadu government has decided to ban chewing tobacco products like gutka and paan masala in the state to help prevent cancer, Chief Minister J Jayalalitha announced on Wednesday.

Making a suo motu statement (Under Rule 110) in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on health-related issues, Jayalalitha said Tamil Nadu will proscribe the “manufacture, storage, transportation and distribution” of various chewing tobacco products including gutka and paan masala.

Referring to her earlier AIADMK regime of 2001, which had banned chewing tobacco products under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act- 1954, Jayalalitha said, however, the Tamil Nadu Government’s Order (GO) then was subsequently quashed by the Supreme Court in 2004, after hearing some petitions challenging such GOs by some states, on the grounds that only the Central government had the power to impose ban on tobacco products.

“Nonetheless, a recent Central government enactment, “Food, Safety and Standards Act’, which along with its regulations which into effect all over the country on August 5, 2011, empowers the states to ensure that no substance including ‘tobacco’ and ‘nicotine’ that impair the health of people is included in any food substance,” Jayalalitha pointed out.

“Under the provisions of the Food, Safety and Standards Act, Tamil Nadu has already set up a Food Protection And Medicinal Board to implement the legislation,” Jayalalitha said.

“Its regulations clearly stipulate that no food or edible substance should include anything that could undermine general hygiene and health safety of the people. Hence, the state government has decided to ban chewing tobacco products. Even the Supreme Court had in another case recently asked what the states were doing in this regard.”

Among a slew of other measures for upgrading the public health sector in the state, Jayalalitha announced that lifestyle clinics would be set up in all government hospitals at a cost of Rs 9.60 crore, so that benefits of yoga, naturopathy and alternative systems of medicine like acupuncture reach common people.

In another suo motu statement, Jayalalitha disclosed that a separate Information Technology (IT) Cadre would be set up in Tamil Nadu to create a pool of IT talent from which the government would draw trained personnel for a range of e-governance initiatives and services undertaken by the state government. The in-thing in IT sector, a Cloud Computing project, would also be implemented at the State Data Centre at a cost of Rs 11 crore.

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