GUWAHATI, April 12 - The Consumers� Legal Protection Forum, Assam, has demanded that the use of smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places in the State be prohibited as early as possible.
The Forum has submitted letters to the Chief Minister, the Health Minister and the Chief Secretary in this regard.
Referring to the letter by Pradip Kumar Pal, Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Tobacco Control Division) to the Chief Secretaries of all states/UTs on April 10, Forum secretary Ajoy Hazarika said the Indian Council of Medical Research has issued an appeal to the public not to consume smokeless tobacco products and spit in public places.
Given the increasing danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICMR has also appealed to the general public to refrain from consuming smokeless tobacco and spitting in public places.
�Pal also mentioned that the state/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 instructs the states/UTs to take necessary preventive measures under the appropriate law to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places,� Hazarika said.
According to WHO advisory, chewing smokeless tobacco (khaini, zarda, gutka, paan and paan masala with tobacco) and areca nut (supari) increases saliva production and enhances the urge to spit repeatedly, Hazarika said.
�Spitting in public places could increase the spread of COVID-19. Rajasthan, Haryana, UP, Chandigarh, Thane in Maharashtra and Dumka district in Jharkhand have already banned the use and sale of tobacco products and spitting in public places. We urge the government to do the same in our State,� he added.