GUWAHATI, March 25 � The Assam government�s Anti-tobacco (Prohibition of Manufacturing, Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution, Sale, and Consumption of Zarda, Gutkha, Pan Masala, etc., containing Tobacco and/or Nicotine) Act, 2013, banning all forms of smokeless tobacco in the State, has come in for appreciation from the non-governmental organisations and experts working in the field of public health in the State.
Appreciating the move by the State government and the State Health Department, Dr AC Kataki, Director of B Borooah Cancer Institute, said, �The ban on smokeless tobacco will definitely have a positive impact in curbing oral cancer cases in the State which has increased substantially of late due to rampant and unchecked use of smokeless tobacco products.�
The Act strictly prohibits manufacture, advertisement, trade, storage, distribution and sale of such substances besides mandating that the violators of the Act would be punished with imprisonment of up to 7 years and a fine between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh will be realized.
The consumption or possession of zarda, gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco shall be punished with a fine of Rs 1,000 for the first offence and Rs 2,000 for each subsequent offence.
Dr Kataki also expressed hope that �the government and the enforcing officials would certainly try and implement the Act keeping in mind the issue of public health and in greater interest of the society�.
Executive secretary of the Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) Ruchia Neog, while hailing the government�s decision to ban all smokeless tobacco products in the State, called upon the designated enforcement officials to take action against the violators and implement the Act in its letter and spirit without bowing to pressures from any quarters.
She also hoped that the State government would �sincerely implement it and will not give in to the pressure tactics of the various bodies or entities that want to dilute the very essence of the Act for their own vested interests�.
Neog called upon the enforcers of the said Act to �treat the issue of tobacco control as a priority and try and implement the same with outmost sincerity so as to save our future generations from the menace called tobacco�.