Almost two days after the Maharashtra government imposed a year-long ban on the sale of gutka and pan masala in the state, Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Ministry is now mulling over plans to rope in a brand ambassador to support the cause. At the forefront is Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi, who is also the ambassador for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) anti-smoking movement.
Sources in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that many actors had been short-listed, but the department chose Oberoi as he had been doing a lot to promote the anti-smoking campaign. “We are aware of Vivek Oberoi’s support to the WHO’s anti-smoking movement. Oberoi not only stays away from tobacco, he also avoids passive smoking. Since he is already fighting for a similar cause, he will be able to do justice to the gutka and pan masala ban too,” said an FDA official.
Meanwhile, the team of food officers is going across the city seizing gutka packets being sold in the market after Friday’s ban.
“Initially, we will keep a watch on pan-bidi shops and on all check nakas from where gutka packets may enter the city. We have made a team of food safety officers who will conduct raids in the city.
Simultaneously, we are also focusing on spreading awareness. The department has issued notices to all schools and colleges to create awareness among the youth about the ill effects of gutka and pan masala consumption,” said Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner of food, FDA.
When asked if the department is planning to rope in the actor for the cause, Deshmukh said, “Nothing has been finalised yet. It is still in the planning stage. The department is thinking of approaching the actor, but we are taking the matter slowly.” Vivek Oberoi was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, a source from FDA revealed that the department is also planning a rally ‘prabhatferi’ for the purpose of educating the masses that selling gutka and pan masala in the state is banned. The department may seek the help of school and college students to organise the rally.
On Sunday, the FDA’s team of food safety officers inspected 52 pan-bidi shops in the city, during which one vendor in Ghatkopar was found to have gutka.
The officers then raided his house in Ghatkopar where they seized gutka packets worth Rs 1.20 lakh. “The vendor used to sell gutka on a cycle and had kept a stock of gutka packets at his residence. We have seized the packets worth Rs 1.20 lakh,” said Deshmukh.
Did you know?
A survey conducted by Global Adult Tobacco Survey of India in the year 2009-10 revealed that 35% of adults consumed tobacco in at least one of its forms, out of which 21% were found to consume smokeless tobacco
To register complaint, dial:
All India Toll free number: 1800 112100
Punishment for the sale of gutka
A fine from Rs 25,000 upto Rs 2 lakh, or between 6 months to 2 years of imprisonment