Thursday, February 17, 2011

No sale of tobacco products in plastic packs from March 1: SC

New Delhi: Gutka and pan masala will not be sold in plastic sachets from March 1. The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Rs 300 billion gutka, pan masala and tobacco industry to get reconciled to the Centre’s February 4 order banning plastic sachets widely used to sell their products. 
   The ban comes into effect 11 days from now in what is being seen as a big boost for the fight against oral cancer.
   The court’s insistence for strict implementation of the new rules notified by the environment ministry coincided with a report by National Institute of Public Health, which termed India as the global capital of oral cancer.
   A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly, which took on record an NIPH report on harmful effects of gutka, was informed by solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam that India has 86% of the world’s oral cancer cases.
   “What is more shocking, chewing tobacco and gutka contributed to 90% of oral cancer cases in the country,” he said. Justices Singhvi and Ganguly had a concerned “we told you so” look as the SG read out highlights of the report.
   The court had been berating the government for being a silent spectator to the clever marketing of gutka, pan masala and tobacco products, virtually making people addicted to it oblivious to its carcinogenic effects.
   Questioning the long delay in framing the rules, which too were notified because of the court’s insistence, the Bench asked, “What were you doing all these days?”
   After the court refused to accede to government’s request for more time to bring into force the relevant rules banning use of plastic in gutka and tobacco sachets, the environment ministry on February 7 had notified the rules and brought it into force immediately.
   With an earlier order giving the industry time till March 1 to implement the Rajasthan High Court order banning use of plastic sachets, the Bench on Thursday agreed to manufacturers’ request to defer enforcement of the new rules till then.

India with 86% of cases is world’s oral cancer capital 

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