State officers have been instructed to begin confiscating the material that medical and health officials have linked to rising cancer rates.
Indian’s health ministry has signaled it will ban gutkha, pan masala, and other edible forms of tobacco on the basis of a ruling last year by the country’s Supreme Court.
Gutkha: Up in smoke?
The Indian Ministry of Health says it will enforce the ruling that it is illegal to mix tobacco into food products.
“Our stand is that if gutkha is food and as per the Food Safety and Standards Act it is illegal to mix harmful things in food, then tobacco and zarda, known harmful items, should not be mixed in food. This is what we will tell the states,” a ministry official said at that time.
This stance has been challenged in courts in many states by manufactures of gutkha and tobacco chewing products who say the products are not indeed foodstuffs.
When the matter reached the Supreme Court of India in late 2010, it ruled since pan masala, supari and gutkha are eaten for taste and nourishment, they are foods within the meaning of the food safety act.
In addition the highest judicial body ruled that under the act, the authority to ban an article of food or an article used as an ingredient of food, belongs to the government of India.