Jammu, March 7 (Scoop News) -JK Voluntary Health Association (JKVHA) and VHAI New Delhi have hailed the decision of the State Government to raise VAT on Tobacco products from 30% to 40% and ban on Gutka, Pan Masala and Zarda. The Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather Wednesday announced ban on Gutka in his budget speech and the Commissioner Food Safety & Standards, MK Dwivedi issued Notification No; HD/Drug/58/2012 vide SRO 68 dated 6th March 2013 imposing a complete ban on manufacture, storage, sale, transportation, display or distribution of Gutka, by whatever name and Pan Masala and Zarda containing tobacco or nicotine, as ingredients, by whatsoever name, with immediate effect. The State Government also announced an increase in VAT on Cigarettes an Other Tobacco products from 30% to 40%. These decisions were taken by the State Government in consideration of representations made by J&K Voluntary Health Association and VHAI New Delhi, in the interest of public health. Hailing the decision of the State Government A.M.Mir (IAS Retd) Executive Director JKVHA, at a press briefing, he said that the collective efforts of the Civil Society, NGOs and the general public have paid dividends. Mir expressed his gratitude to H.E. The Governor, NN Vohra, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, Economic Advisor, Jalil Ahmed Khan, Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khanday, Principal Secretary Finance, BB Vyas, Commissioner/Secretary Health and Medical Education, MK Dwivedi, Drug Controller Satish Gupta, CEO VHAI Alok Mukhopadhyay, ED VHAI, Ms. Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Director VHAI, Ms. Seema Gupta and Chairman JKVHA, Dr. (Professor) GQ Allaqaband. Mir also thanked the journalist community, especially the print and electronic media for acting as a pressure group and providing effective support to the anti-tobacco efforts of JKVHA. The press conference was also attended by Ghulam Nabi Mir Lasjan, Social activist, BL Parimoo, Member JKVHA and Dr NC Prabhakar.
JKVHA had been working for implementation of Ban on Gutka and implementation of Tobacco Control Act for the past five years and has undertaken various awareness programmes for the masses about the hazard and ill-effects of tobacco products, including various rallies, seminars and workshops, in urban and rural areas.
The Organization had earlier filed a PIL in the Hon’ble High Court seeking implementation of Section 4 and Section 6 (a) and (b) banning smoking in public places and sale of tobacco products to minors and around 100 yards of education institutions. Another PIL had been filed by JKVHA seeking ban on Gutka. JKVHA has been working in close collaboration with State Government for reducing the consumption of tobacco, especially amongst the youth.
In exercise of the powers vested upon him under clause (a) of sub-section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi , IAS, Commissioner of Food Safety, Jammu and Kashmir ordered ban on manufacture, storage, sale transportation, display or distribution of Gutkha in the state.
As per the notification number HD/Drug/58/2012 issued today the Commissioner of Food has prohibited distribution of Gutkha by whatever name and Pan Masala or Zarda containing tobacco or nicotine as ingredients by any name.
Mr Dwivedi said that as Gutkha of any type contains tobacco or nicotine as major ingredient so it is practical to impose ban on its manufacturing, storage, sale, transportation or distribution in the state.
This order was issued immediately after the Budget announcement in this regard where the Finance Department has agreed to impose the ban on such products in the interest of health care of the citizens of J&KState.