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Govt ban on gutkha evokes no response

Traders openly flout ban; consumption on the rise

SHILLONG: In a clear cut case of government apathy, sale of gutkha and other harmful tobacco and non tobacco products continues unabated despite a State government ban ordered in 2014 without any implementation.
There is open sale of the banned guthka and pan masala with school and college students being the most important customers. Shopkeepers in the city continue to display and sell the harmful substances openly without any fear of the authorities.
Most of the pan shops in the city continue to sell gutkhas and while some show restraint, lure of money proves to be too strong a motivation.
Speaking on the matter, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P.S. Dkhar asserted that he would take up the matter with officials of the Health department since this matter is dealt by them.
The manufacture, storage and sale of gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine as ingredients are prohibited in the State under sub section (2) of Section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Soon after the order, every Government agency was quick enough to see that the order is implemented in its spirit but as time elapsed, no further action  was taken to ensure that the order is enforced strictly.
According to Dkhar, the Health department needs to conduct publicity drives about the order so that people do not buy or consume the banned products. Besides, it is the Health department which needs to conduct inspection and penalize those shopkeepers who still sell these products, the deputy commissioner said.
Dkhar also stated that since these products are brought from outside the State, the first and foremost task is to locate the stockiest of these products.
Until the time the Health department wakes up to its responsibilities and the officials move out of their cabins onto the streets to gauge the situation, sale of guthka and such products would continue in the city and across the State with more and more children falling prey to the harmful substances on a daily basis.

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