States doing good job on gutka ban: WHO study

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States doing good job on gutka ban: WHO study

A study by the World Health Organisation has revealed that many states across the country are doing a good job with regard to enforcing a ban on gutka. The report was released on the second day of National Tobacco Control Conference at Tata Memorial Hospital.

How was the study conducted?
The study was conducted in seven states (Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa) and the National Capital Region. Surveys were conducted with 1001 current and former gutka users and 458 tobacco product retailers to gain insight into the effect of the ban on consumer use and product availability.

What does WHO say?
Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India said: "The study has revealed that product bans did impact use. Of the respondents who continue to use pre-packaged gutka, half (49%) reported they consume less since the ban. I am also happy to learn that there was high degree of unanimity (90% of the respondents) that the government should ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of other forms of smokeless tobacco."

What were the findings?
The study revealed that there was a very high (92%) support for gutka bans across the studied jurisdictions and there was an almost universal agreement (99%) that gutka bans are good for the health of India's youth. "These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern," Dr Menabde added.

What do Maha officials say?
Welcoming the study results, Mahesh Zagade, former Food and Drugs Administration chief in Maharashtra who received an award from WHO for the effective implementation of the gutka ban in the state, said: "During the implementation of the ban, our focus was to ensure no new youth take up the addiction. It was to protect our youth, the gene-next. Stopping the tobacco users and spreading awareness was happening at the same time."

Does this mean things are under control?
However, sharing a word of caution, Dr Pradeep Krishnatray, director of research and strategic planning at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communications Programs, said, "Most of the respondents are purchasing tobacco and mixing it with a packet of pan masala with zarda. This innovation has adversely affected the very purpose and consequent impact of the ban."

Key findings of the study?
After the ban, most gutka users report purchasing ingredients separately and combining/mixing their own gutka

Interest in quitting is high - approximately half of respondents reported attempting to stop using gutka in the last year.

About 80% of respondents agree that the gutka ban will help people kick the habit

Of the respondents who quit since the ban, between 41% and 88% reported that they gave up the habit because of the ban

Cost of pre-packaged gutka increased after prohibition

There was virtually no retail outlet where pre-packaged gutka was on display

More than one-quarter of tobacco product retailers said they had been approached post-ban by a supplier to continue selling pre-packaged gutka.

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