The Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam on Saturday demanded the State Government to prohibit the use and spitting of chewing smokeless tobacco products in public in the State as early as possible for the greater interest of the public.
The Forum on Saturday submitted letters to the chief minister, health minister and chief secretary and raised this demand.
Referring to the letter of Pradip Kumar Pal, under secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (Tobacco Control Division) dated the 10th April, 2020 to the chief secretaries of all states/UTs, Forum secretary advocate Ajoy Hazarika said, “In his letter to the state governments, said Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dept of Health Research, Government of India has issued an appeal to the general public not to consume and spit smokeless tobacco in public.”
Chewing smokeless tobacco products, paan masala and areca nut (supari) increases the production of saliva followed by a very strong urge to spit.
Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID-19 virus, he said.
In view of the increasing danger of COVID-19 pandemic, ICMR has appealed the general public to refrain from consuming the smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places during the epidemic.
In the letter Pradip Kumar Pal clearly mentioned that the states/UT governments have necessary authority under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and also under various provisions of Indian Penal Code 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) to deal with COVID-19.
He instructed the states/UTs to take necessary preventive measures under the appropriate law to prohibit the use and spitting of chewing smokeless tobacco products in public.
According to WHO advisory, “Chewing smokeless tobacco (khaini, zarda, gutka, paan and paan masala with tobacco) and areca nut (supari) increase saliva production and enhances the urge to spit repeatedly. Spitting in public places could increase the spread of COVID -19”.
In wake of COVID-19 pandemic, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Thane in Maharashtra, Dumka District in Jharkhand have already banned use and sale of tobacco products and spitting in public places.
So it’s now Assam government’s turn to prohibit the use and spitting of chewing smokeless tobacco products in public in the State as early as possible, the Forum stated.