New Delhi: In a blow to the gutkha, pan masala manufacturers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed a ban on the use of plastic in the packaging of tobacco products.
As per reports, the Supreme Court has set March 2011 as the deadline within which the gutkha and tobacco manufacturers need to implement its order.
During the hearing, when the manufacturers pleaded that such an order will result in the closure of these industries, the apex court asked them to shift to eco-friendly sachets or close down.
The court said the decision will be better for the country.
The Supreme Court ruling comes in midst of reports that in India, more than five million children under the age of 15 years suffer from various forms of mouth cancers, which is mainly attributed to the unregulated consumption of gutkha – in states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh more than 16 percent mouth cancer patients are children.
Importantly, the aggressive marketing strategy of gutkha and pan masala manufacturers is said to be one of the major reasons behind the widespread addiction amongst school children.
The ban on the use of plastics comes nearly a year after the government made it mandatory for the tobacco manufacturers to display pictorial health warnings of a scorpion and diseased lungs, covering at least 40% of the principal display area of the pack with text warnings in English and other regional languages.
This ruling came into effect on May 31, 2009.
The directive requires cigarette and packs to carry the warning “Smoking Kills,” while manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products such as gutka and pan masala have to print “Tobacco Kills” on the packs in white font on a red background.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India records about 800,000 tobacco deaths every year or 2,200 deaths a day.