Ban on plastic packets for paan masala, gutkha from March 1

The Supreme Court Thursday declined to stay an order banning sale of tobacco products like gutkha and paan masala in plastic sachets beyond March 1. Taking note of the government's submission that 90 per cent of oral cancer cases in the country are on account of consumption of these tobacco products, the SC declined to relax the deadline imposed by it on December 7, 2010.

Quoting extensively from a report by a government-engaged expert body, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium submitted that 86 per cent of oral cancer cases in the world originate from India and of this, 90 per cent are on account of chewing tobacco products.

The SC was hearing an appeal by gutkha and paan masala manufacturers challenging a Rajasthan High Court order banning use of plastic sachets.

The SC had on December 7 restrained gutkha and paan masala manufacturers from using plastic as packaging material for their products by March 1, 2011. It had also ordered the government to entrust an independent agency with the task of testing the contents of the sachets to evaluate the risk to consumers.

The court also sought the government's response on various applications challenging its February 4 notification implementing the Plastic Management and Disposal Rules 2009 to regulate use of plastic for packaging gutkha and other tobacco products. It directed the government to enforce the Plastic Management and Disposal Rules of 2009 within eight weeks.

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