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Activists step up campaign for ban on gutkha

Our Bureau

Mumbai Aug 5

THE Supreme Court judgment on August 2 withdrawing the ban on sale of gutkha in Maharashtra, imposed by the State Government in August 2002, on technical grounds has prompted social activists and NGOs in Mumbai to step up their campaign for a nation-wide ban on gutkha.

Clarifying that the Supreme Court judgment was based purely on technical grounds regarding the methodology involved in imposition of the ban, Salaam Bombay, which has been in the forefront to wean away children from the clutches of gutkha consumption, says that the lobby of gutkha producers were now trying to misinterpret the judgment as one endorsing gutkha.

"The Supreme Court has only highlighted a weakness in the law which needs to be rectified to find a permanent solution. This should be taken as an opportunity by us to make it a national issue and campaign for a nation-wide ban on sale of gutkha," according to Dr P.C. Gupta, Vice-President of Action Council Against Tobacco (ACAT).

Recent studies have shown that even newly born babies were becoming victims of gutkha consumption by their mothers. A recent study in Mumbai has shown that newly born babies of women consuming gutkha weighed an average of 106 gm lighter than those of women not addicted to this habit. Also, gutkha-consuming women delivered babies on an average of 6.2 days in advance, which, in medical terms, was a matter of concern.

Ms Padmini Somani, Director of Salaam Bombay Foundation, pointed out that 50 lakh children in the country are addicted to tobacco and every two seconds a child tries tobacco for the first time.

"There is no dearth of scientific evidence to show that gutkha is a silent killer. If the use of this product by children goes unchecked, it will lead to an oral cancer epidemic."

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