Gutkha ban: It’s busi­ness as usual for tobacco shops

Most of the ven­dors ig­no­rant about the ban; health of­fi­cials wait­ing for gov­ern­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tion

HT Ludhiana Live - - Front Page - Harshraj Singh ludlivedesk@hin­dus­tan­times.com LUD­HI­ANA:

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.”

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