NGOs seek curbs on sale of nicotine gum to children

Child rights groups fear gum chewing habit may become addiction among children; write a letter to the Department of Health and Family Welfare

Published: 28th October 2013 11:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2013 11:49 AM   |  A+A-

Nicotine gum was introduced to the market to help smokers stay away from smoking. But it looks like it will have counterproductive effects as children have easy access to it through grocery shops and supermarkets. 

Fearing abuse and addiction, NGOs and child rights groups in the city have sought an immediate restriction on the sale and distribution of nicotine gums to children below 18 years in the State.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, they have said, “No sale of nicotine gums should be allowed in and around school premises as in the case of cigarettes and alcohol.” 

Nicotine gum was introduced as a Nicotine Replacement Therapy Product to keep addicts away from cigarette smoking. But the fear now is that the product intended to curb addiction might itself become a product for substance abuse among children, especially boys aged between 10 and 18 years.

In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also added it to its essential medicines list, they claimed.

“While nicotine gum may be a help for those trying to drop the habit of smoking, our concerns lie with the marketing, advertising and easy availability of the gum, which we fear may lead to usage of these products by children,” said the child rights activists, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare U T Khader.

Dr Shalini Joshi of Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare said though children face a greater risk of nicotine poisoning, there is no statutory warning or pictures on these chewing gum packs like on cigarette packs.

“The gums available now are white in colour. But nicotine gums should be made in other colours like grey or black so that they are easily identifiable and parents can find out that their kids are using it,” she observed.

Former UNICEF coordinator for Department of Women and Child Development G Suchitra Rao, who has also signed the letter, said that the sale of this gum at counters should be immediately banned.

“Nicotine gum has very high addictive tendency and chewing gum is a common habit among children,” she said.

Comparing it with how whitener abuse is highly prevalent, especially among homeless children, Rao added that it is likely that it will automatically become substance abuse.

“Officials of the Department of Primary and Secondary Education should send out circulars to schools asking them to create awareness among children,” Dr Shalini suggested.

“Nicotine gums are available in several flavours at almost every large and little grocery and confectionery shop in Bangalore,” claimed the letter, citing the example of certain gums priced at `30 per pack of six and `50 for a pack of 10.

“There are very enticing half  page advertisements in newspapers and huge billboards at major crossings promoting these gums,” the letter alleged.

“As it does not emit the offensive cigarette smell, parents may not be able to detect that the child is using the gum,” it noted.

Stay up to date on all the latest Bengaluru news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp