JAIPUR: The ban on tobacco laced products imposed by the Ashok Gehlot government has led to an uproar in Rajasthan. Many manufacturers, distributors and sellers of tobacco products who are likely to be severely hit, are calling it a diktat leading to a loss of business and livelihood.
The state government on Wednesday had banned the production and sale of pan masala, betel nut, flavored betel nut, magnesium carbonate, mineral oil and tobacco on Gandhi Jayanti.
A medical department team raided premises of two big gutka businessmen in Alwar which is considered the capital of gutka products.
Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. OP Meena, along with a team of his department, took samples of finished products and betel nut products and sent them to laboratories for testing.
After this, the Food Safety Commissioner directed all Medical Health Officers (MHOs) of the districts to take action in this regard.
The action by the health department officials has unnerved the tobacco product manufacturers and dealers. Many are seeking answers as to what to do with finished stocks lying with them though officials have made it clear that only those tobacco products are to be destroyed and removed, especially those that have a mix of magnesium carbonate and mineral oil in them.
It is estimated that Rajasthan has an annual turnover of nearly Rs 4,000 crore of tobacco-laced products and of this nearly 10%, i.e. finished goods stock worth Rs 400 crore is lying across nearly 2.5 lakh kiosks and shops. Of these over 20,000 are selling their tobacco products in Jaipur alone and health officials say that out of 310 samples collected, only 91 were found to be within the prescribed safe limits.
Ban on flavoured supari is a setback for the Rs 50 crore un-organised cottage industry of Rajasthan that engages in the trade and employs over 50,000 people.