Ban on gutka has positive impact: WHO

Mumbai: Stringent state-level laws banning gutka have a positive impact as reduced product availability has resulted in decreased consumption of gutka, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

In a study conducted by the WHO in seven states — Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha and National Capital Region (NCR) — 92 per cent respondents supported ban on sale of gutka, while a whopping 99 per cent said the ban was good for the health of Indian youth.

“These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern. The ban did impact use. Of the respondents who continue to use pre-packaged gutka, 49 per cent reported they consume less since the ban.

There was high degree of unanimity among respondents (90per cent) that the government should ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of other forms of smokeless tobacco,” WHO Representative to India Dr Nata Menabde said in a release here.

However, sharing the peril of use of tobacco with other ingredients like pan masala etc, Director, Research and Strategic Planning at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communications Programs, Dr Pradeep Krishnatray said most of the respondents consumed tobacco by mixing it with a packet of pan masala with zarda.

“This innovation has adversely affected the very purpose and consequent impact of the ban,” he added.

The study found that interest in quitting is high as approximately half of respondents reported attempting to quit gutka in last one year. .