Gutkha banned, but users say will seek other tobacco options

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A survey to gauge general perception on gutkha ban showed that while a large number of people felt the ban was justified, an equal number said they would turn to other tobacco alternatives. The state government had issued a notification banning gutkha and paan masala on July 19.

The survey was undertaken by Salaam Bombay Foundation and comprised a sample size of 2,500 persons aged between 15 and 70 years, in and around Mumbai. While 91 per cent of tobacco users and 90 per cent of gutkha and paan masala users said the ban was justified, 90 per cent said they would switch to other tobacco products like khaini, beedi and cigarettes once the ban was rigorously implemented.

"This survey reveals the public opinion on the issue of gutkha ban in the state. It is clear that citizens tobacco users or not are in favour of this ban," said Devika Chaddha, programme director of Salaam Bombay Foundation, which helps street kids in Mumbai fight tobacco addiction. "However, we appeal to the government to put a blanket ban on all forms of tobacco products as the survey shows that gutkha and paan masala users may switch to other tobacco products," she added.

Four of five respondents said the ban was justified due to the detrimental effects tobacco has on the consumer's health while one in 10 said that money would be saved if there is no expenditure on these goods. "The major impact of the ban will be on the youth of the country. With large number of children becoming nicotine and tobacco addicts, the ban will save the future of of our youth," Chaddha said.

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