The Centre should ban cigarettes, if it wants to ban ‘gutkha’ consumption, according to Campco.
Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, Mr K. Padmanbha, President of the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd, said that there are lakhs of arecanut growers in 12 districts of Karnataka and five districts of Kerala.
Stating that tobacco is consumed in various forms, including cigarettes, beedi and gutkha, he said some people even chew tobacco. Arecanut is a major ingredient in the preparation of ‘gutkha’.
Various State Governments have taken steps to ban only ‘gutkha’. If ‘gutkha’ can be banned citing carcinogenic elements such as tobacco in it, why can’t the Government ban cigarettes, he said.
He suggested that before banning ‘gutkha’ in the country, the Government should formulate a relief package for arecanut growers, and implement the package in phases. The sudden ban on ‘gutkha’ will be detrimental to the interests of arecanut growers in the country, he said.
Referring to the ban on ‘paan masala’ by some States, he said pure ‘paan masala’ is devoid of tobacco. There is no need to ban it. Some manufacturers unscrupulously add tobacco to market their products. Action should be taken against such people.
Added to the threat of ‘gutkha’ ban and its impact on arecanut growers, a large quantity of arecanut is being imported into the country below the floor price. In such a situation, the Government should initiate steps to ban the import of arecanut.
Otherwise, the Government should increase the floor price on imported arecanut to a minimum of Rs 87 a kg, Mr Padmanabha said. That is the minimum support price fixed by the Government for white arecanut, he said.
A delegation of arecanut cooperatives met the Karnataka Chief Minister in Bangalore yesterday seeking his intervention in protecting the interests of farmers in the State on the above-mentioned issues, he added.