Ban pan-masala promotions

Source: The post is based on an article Ban pan-masala promotions published in Business Standard on 22nd June 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Health

Relevance: concerns with the consumption of pan masala.

News: The ban on chewing tobacco (gutka) has not served the purpose because people have now shifted towards consuming pan masala, which is also harmful for health.

When was the chewing tobacco ban?

All state governments banned the sale of chewing tobacco (gutka) and pan-masala laced with tobacco since 2011.

This ban was later overturned by the Delhi High Court judgment in 2022.

However, a Bench led by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court overruled this 2022 judgment and upheld the appeals of the central and Delhi governments against the sale of gutka and tobacco flavoured pan-masala.

What have been the effects of banning chewing tobacco (gutka)?

Despite the ban on gutka, television and other advertisements continue to be allowed in India for pan-masala (without tobacco).

Gutka has been banned due to its cancer-causing properties, while pan-masala has been deemed acceptable, despite evidence suggesting its addictive nature.

Further, the banning of gutka has not led to lower consumption of this carcinogenic product. Instead, the ban has led to clandestine production and distribution networks going underground.

Similar concerns are raised regarding the banning of alcohol, heroin, and cocaine, i.e., whether banning them actually lower their consumption or their consumption are increased by illicit means.

However, in India, the limited availability of hard drugs may play a bigger role in constraining consumption than law enforcement efforts.

Must Read: Tobacco Problem in India- An Overview

What are the concerns with the consumption of pan masala?

Pan masala like that of gutka is harmful for health. However, these are easily available in India in shops.

Government agencies are struggling worldwide to eliminate the production of hard drugs and their consumption. Even their advertisements are not permitted in India or elsewhere.

However, Indian authorities allow pan-masala to be widely advertised all over the country. These advertisements are mostly done by famous personalities.

However, famous stars from the Indian film industry should be discouraged from appearing in such advertisements.

Why is it difficult to ban pan masala?

The revenue which pan-masala generates acts as an obstacle for its ban.

According to the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group, pan-masala sales revenues reached around 41,821 crores in 2021, with an annual growth rate of approximately 3.5 percent.

Therefore, given its large revenue, pan-masala producers would use all permitted mediums of advertising.

What measures can be taken to control the consumption of pan masala?

First, the central and state governments should ban all promotions of pan-masala even without tobacco.

Second, the harmful effects of pan masala need to be explained in simple terms in all Indian languages via government sponsored messages.

Third, all pan-masala advertisements on television, radio, and print media, especially in regional languages should be prohibited.

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