A study by the World Health Organisation to examine the impact of gutka ban in select states of India has found that state-level laws banning gutka are having a positive impact – reduced product availability and a decrease in consumption of gutka.
The study, 'Examining the impacts of the gutka bans in selected states in India' revealed that the support for gutka bans is very high (92%) and there was an almost universal agreement (99%) that gutka bans are good for the health of India’s youth.
The study was conducted by the World Health Organization Country Office for India in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in seven states (Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa) and the National Capital Region region.
“These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern,” said Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India.
Surveys were conducted with 1,001 current and former gutka users and 458 tobacco product retailers to gain insight into the e ffect of the bans on consumer use and product availability in seven states and the National Capital Territory.
Observations of 450 retail environments and 54 in-depth interviews with government officials, enforcement officials and citizens working with civil society groups were also conducted to the same end.
- Government to expand the Gutka ban to all smokeless tobacco products. The ban should also cover products that can be bought separately and mixed to be consumed as Gutka or a product similar to Gutka (by whatever named called).
- Enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened to ensure complete compliance of the ban
- Provision for tobacco cessation services to be scaled up to cater to the unmet need for cessation after the ban
- Products like pan masala are used as a base for making products akin to Gutka and also are produced and marketed by the same manufacturers under the similar brand names. These pan masala products are blatantly advertised and act as a surrogate advertising medium for smokeless tobacco.
- Therefore, the Government needs to take urgent action to stop advertisements of pan masala to protect the vulnerable sections of society including the youth.