A study conducted by the World Health Organisation country office for India in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health across seven States in India shows that banning gutka, a form of chewing tobacco, helps users kick the habit.
India is estimated to be the world’s largest consumer of smokeless tobacco; WHO estimates indicate that 26 per cent of adults use smokeless tobacco, a major cause of death and disease. Nearly one million people die in India every year because of tobacco use.
The new study conducted across Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and the National Capital Region, shows that there are “strong indications” that State-level laws banning gutka have a positive impact owing to reduced product availability and a decrease in its consumption.
It also shows as many as 92 per cent of the respondents support a gutka ban while 99 per cent agreed that a ban is good for the health of India’s youth. A substantial proportion of respondents in each State (from 41-88 per cent) reported that they quit using gutka because of the ban.
“These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern,” said Dr. Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India.
According to her, the study revealed that product ban did impact use. “Of the respondents who continue to use pre-packaged gutka, half (49 per cent) reported they consume less since the ban. I am also happy to learn that there was high degree of unanimity (90 per cent of the respondents) that the government should ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of other forms of smokeless tobacco,” she said.