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FDA Maharashtra reimposes tobacco ban for one year after ’18 ban lapses

26,July, 2019

Gutka, tobacco and pan masala have been banned for another year in Maharashtra, following the lapse of the prohibition imposed on it on July 21, 2018.
In this regard, the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a letter reimposing the prohibition on the manufacture, storage, distribution, transport or sale of tobacco, which is either flavoured, scented or mixed with any of the said additives.
“FDA Maharashtra has been reimposing the bans for one-year period every year since 2012, as limited powers have been invested in this regard to the state food safety commissioner,” stated Milind Deshpande, assistant commissioner (food), FDA, Nagpur, Maharashtra.  
The ban is applicable to all forms of tobacco, whether going by the name or form of gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, manufactured chewing tobacco with additives, kharra, or otherwise by whatsoever name called, whether packaged or unpackaged and/or sold as one product, or though packaged as separate products, sold distributed in such a manner so as to easily facilitate mixing by the consumer, for its consumption.
It was recommended by Dr Pallavi Darade, food safety commissioner, Food And Drug Administration, Maharashtra in the interest of public health.
The food safety commissioner has a power, coupled with a duty under Section 30(2) (a) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA, 2006) to prohibit in the interest of public health, the manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of any article of food. Chewing tobacco is listed as food at Item Number 40 in the table under Sub-regulation 2.3.1.
Constitution of India has considered the importance of human health, and therefore, Parliament passed the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and considered the food safety commissioner accountable to prohibit in the interest of public health the 16 manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of any article of food, and duly authorised and duty bound under Section 30(2)(a) to make this order.
Therefore, tobacco, whether flavoured, scented or mixed with other ingredients such as nicotine, heavy metals, anti-caking agents quivam, menthol, keshar (except to the extent specifically permitted as ingredients), silver leaf, binders, flavours, scents, fragrances, prohibited chemicals, or any one of these ingredients (the said ingredients are hereafter collectively or individually, as the context requires, referred to as the said additives), such manufactured chewing tobacco with additives are food under Section 3(j) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
As per the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations 2011’s Regulation 2.3.4 food product not to contain any substance which may be injurious to health: Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredient in any food products. Chewing tobacco is listed as food at Item Number 40 in the table under Sub-regulation 2.3.1, i.e., Restriction on the use of insecticides under Regulation 2.3, i.e., Residue in Food Safety and Standards (Contamints, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011.
After going through various scientific reports and opinions, it was noticed that gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, chewing tobacco, kharra and similar products containing tobacco by whatsoever name called, caused immense damage to the health of consumers and their adverse impact could also lead to alterations of the genetic make-up of future generations.
The definition of food is given at Section 3(j) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, therefore chewing tobacco is food. Many High Courts have considered chewing tobacco as food, e.g. Cr. Revision No. 318/1982, Manoharlal versus UP (Para Nos. 9 to 11); Bombay High Court in W.P. No. 1631/202; Dharival Industries Ltd versus State of Maharashtra (Para Nos. 21 to 23) and Supreme Court in R Krishna Murty versus Tamil Nadu 1980 (I) FAC: AIR 1980 SC,538.
Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that food products which have tobacco as their basic ingredient, whether or not containing the said additives, and whether going by the name of gutka, pan masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, chewing tobacco, jarda, khaini, kharra, or by any other name, have extremely deleterious effects on human health and well-being with consequential impact on society as well.
The addition of any one of several of the said additives particularly flavouring or scenting ingredients to tobacco significantly increases their allure, as raw unprocessed tobacco is less inviting in taste or texture.
Thus consumption of raw and unprocessed tobacco is usually large in quantities when flavoured, scented or containing one or the other of the said additives. It is the flavouring, scenting, adding or mixing of one or the other of the said additives or modification of the physical texture or combination of tobacco transforms these foods and makes them extremely inviting to a wide spectrum of population, including an increasing number of children.
Consumption of these products is increasing in large quantities and is becoming addictive, causing immense damage to the health of consumers and even involving an impact upon the genetic make-up of future generations.
Some of the said additives are themselves extremely dangerous to health and are prohibited under the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 and the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

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