The government of Sikkim has banned the sale, distribution and storage of gutkha, a form of chewing tobacco. This makes Sikkim the second state in the north-east after Mizoram to ban gutkha. The notification issued on September 17 bans all food items containing gutkha and nicotine.
A large number of people in Sikkim—25.6 per cent—consume gutkha. Twelve other states have already banned gutkha; these are: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chandigarh, Mizoram, Delhi and Gujarat.
The ban is based on the regulation issued on August 1, 2011 by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a statutory body under the health ministry, to look after food safety. Rule 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations of 2011 says that a food product should not “contain any substance which may be injurious to health: Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.” But the Centre sent letters to all states recommending the ban only on April 25, this year, after Madhya Pradesh took the initiative and banned the sale and storage of gutkha on April 1.
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