Ban on plastic tobacco pouches not effective

gutka New Delhi: Even as India waits for harsher pictorial warnings on all tobacco products – a new ban is put in place for plastic packaging of gutka.

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision to ban the use of plastic in sachets for storing or selling tobacco, gutka and pan masala came into effect across the country from March 1 this year.

“This is basically a part of the environment ministry’s revised plastic waste management’s rules. This ban is significant because this will change the consumption pattern and stem it and maybe reduce it,” said Ravi Agarwal.

The proposed ban is expected to hit the estimated ten thousand crore rupee domestic market for tobacco products, with production costs expected to increase by at least 40 per cent for alternative packaging.

The ban was supposed to be effective from the March 1 but a reality check at the local vendor is all it takes to know the truth. We can find almost all the brands of gutkas available in plastic pouches.

A chat with local vendors in Delhi and NCR region demonstrates the lack of awareness, and the fact that no company has recalled their stock.

“The companies never came to us to take back the stock,” said a vendor.

“I had heard about the ban, but nothing happened after that,” he said.

“Top companies only see their profits. The case is being heard for several months. There was a strong indication of a ban. By this time they should have been ready with new pouches,” said Bhawna M, Director, VHAI.

The apex court is also expected to rule on a proposed ban on gutka in mid-April. Unless implementation kicks in, the present ban may end up like the the long-pending ban on harsh pictorial warnings – which the Supreme Court has now ordered to go into effect finally on June 1.


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