Pan masala products are all set to come back to the market with the Kerala High Court quashing the ban on the supply and sale of chewing tobacco and tobacco products by invoking the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act on Monday.
Justice A M Shaffique passed the order on a petition filed by the dealers of tobacco products.
The petitioners alleged that while transporting chewing tobacco products from Delhi, the vehicles were intercepted at the excise check post at Walayar on the grounds that the sale of pan masala is prohibited in the State.
“The State and the Commissioner of Food Safety have no right to take any action against tobacco or tobacco products as chewing tobacco is not a food product as defined under the FSS Act,” the order said.
“Tobacco and tobacco products are not food items as defined under Section 3 (J) of the Act and it is not a food product as specified under regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation 2011,” the court said.
Food safety regulation permits the government to impose restriction on any food product containing tobacco or nicotine.
But it cannot prohibit the manufacture and sale of tobacco and tobacco products which cannot be considered as a food product, the court observed.
Further, it said that tobacco and tobacco products are to be manufactured and sold strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003 (CTP).
Chewing tobacco or tobacco products are covered under the provisions of the CTP Act and the FSS Act is not applicable to such products.