The continuing sale of gutkha in Assam, disregarding public health interests, has prompted the Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) to express serious concern. Referring to the recent ban on gutkha production and sale in Madhya Pradesh and in Goa much earlier, the VHAA has questioned why such a step cannot be taken by the Assam Government.
Assam has one of the highest incidences of oral cancer in the country and a main factor has been identified as the widespread use of tobacco products such as gutkha and other chewable tobacco products.
The VHAA said that to safeguard the health of its citizens from the menace of chewing tobacco products, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has banned the sale and manufacture of products like gutkha, khaini and other chewing tobacco products based on the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulation to prohibit the addition of tobacco or nicotine in food, which was issued on August 1, 2011.
The Expert’s Thought: Gutkha is an extremely popular herbal concoction sold throughout India and exported to a few countries. The most serious side effect associated with prolonged gutkha use is an increased risk of cancer.