In order to implement the order passed by the High Court of Karnataka on November 15, 2016, that prohibited the manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of all forms of chewing tobacco including flavoured/scented tobacco, plain or mixed with other additives, whether going by the name of chewing tobacco, kharra, khainior zarda, or by whatsoever name called, an order was issued by the Food Safety Commissioner, Government of Karnataka on November 26 2016, directing all the Deputy Commissioners, designated officers and food supply officers to prohibit the manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of gutkha or pan masala (containing tobacco or nicotine) in their district/jurisdiction. Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru has also issued necessary instructions in this regard recently.
Welcoming the gutkha ban order as a positive step in the right direction for ensuring good health of the people, under Section 92 of the Centre’s Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and also to fulfil its obligation under World Health Organisation FCTC international protocol, Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) urges that shortage of staff in the Food Department should not come in the way of its effective implementation. As it appears, Food Department in Mysuru has only two qualified food inspectors who will find it difficult to inspect and book thousands of errant shops and street vendors. Even after the ban was announced, one can still find these banned substances in almost all shops at every nook and corners.
Therefore, CPAA appeals to District Administration and Government of Karnataka to ensure that sufficient number of food inspectors and officials are in place for the effective implementation of the ban.
The proposal of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike for engaging the services of retired army personnel to perform as marshals for containing garbage can be taken as an example and the food department of Karnataka can also consider engaging the services of ex-army personnel by training them and under the supervision of food officials, enforce gutkha ban in the district as a pilot project and later in the entire State for effective implementation of the ban.
-By Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
(The writer is a veteran social activist)