Gutkha ban: It’s business as usual for tobacco shops
Most of the vendors ignorant about the ban; health officials waiting for government notification
Despite a ban on the sale of chewing tobacco products, including gutkha and pan masala, in Punjab, roadside vendors are selling the products openly across the city. This correspondent did a reality check in seven localities to get a feel of the modus operandi being adopted by the companies manufacturing these products, whose salespersons deliver them to the vendors at their doorstep.
Residents feel that there should checks on the manufacturing and marketing of the tobacco products as chewing of tobacco in any form was a potent health hazard and responsible for deadly diseases, including cancer.
The agents of firms manufacturing tobacco products come to stalls and deliver pouches of gutkha and pan masala for sale. Majority of the vendors selling the banned products are ignorant of any ban.
Roadside vendors in Dugri, Jawaddi, Pakhowal road, Ferozepur road, Kitchlu Nagar, Hambran Road and adjoining slum areas are still doing good business by selling these nicotine-based chewable products.
Requesting anonymity, an elderly vendor in Jawaddi said that he read in the newspaper about the ban but there was no check from the government thus he would carry on till there was action from the government side. “I am a poor person and am earning my livelihood. I buy these products from agents. It is important to break the supply chain to make the ban successful,” he added.
Another vendor, Rakesh in Kitchlu Nagar, said, “I did not know about the ban. I only sell gutkha and no pan masala. The agent has delivered gutkha thismorning but he did not tell me about any ban. Now I will tell the customers about the ban.”
On the other hand, Raju, a labourer, while sharing his story said that he started consuming these products as he was ignorant about the ill- effects of tobacco products.
Dr Kunal Jain, an oncologist at CMC Hospital, said, “gutkha and pan masala can cause cancer of mouth and throat. These intoxicants can also cause the problem of heart and other diseases.”
District health officer Dr Kulwinder Singh, said, “we have not received the notification regarding the ban. Once we receive the notification, we will then take action against those selling chewing tobacco products.”