Maharashtra is officially the first state to implement the Centre directive to ban sales of tobacco and FMCG goods under one roof. This initiative was taken last September by the Union ministry of health and family welfare in order to prevent tobacco exposure to kids.
FDA(Food and Drug Administration) issued an order to this effect on January 9th. FDA commissioner Pallavi Daredo said “The Union government had suggested that tobacco be sold exclusive of FMCG products so that children are not exposed to them. Children could get influenced by tobacco products when they go to buy chips or chocolates”.
Though the rule is in full effect, The FDA is hoping for self-compliance one awareness is raised. Darade said, “We assume people of Maharashtra are law abiding and will comply with the orders once they come to know about it. Once there is awareness about it, we will then take action. There is a provision to cancel licences and registrations, we may also file a case in civil court which may then lead to an imprisonment of up to six months plus fine”
Any establishment that wish to sell food items requires a license from the FDA. “Since gutka and tobacco are classified as food, any ban or regulation would come under the FDA’s ambit”, said a government official.
Despite a significant decline in the usage of tobacco products in last seven years, the 5.5% increase in tobacco consumption among people of the age group 15-17 has been a concern for the FDA.
Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi from Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, said, “Research shows 90% of tobacco users started as teens and once addicted less than 5% of users are able to quit.” In India, every year, there are 1 lakh new cases of oral cancer of which 50% die within 12 months.