Choose Life, Not Tobacco         |         Smoking is a habit that drains your money and kills your slowly, one puff after another….         |         Smoking helps you to relax… in Death-bed         |         Smoking is injurious not only to you, but for the ones around you also… Quit before it’s late         |         Smoking Leaves an Unseen Scar, it fill your Insides with Toxins and Tar         |         Only a fool would put his lips, at the other end of a burning fie.         |         Irony is, Tobacco companies kill their Best Customers.         |         You’re a Fool, if you think smoking is cool.         |         Tar the Roads, not your lungs.         |         Be brighter, put down the lighter.         |         Put the smoke out, before it put you Out.         |         Who’s going to retire on your hard-earned dollars… You or some tobacco company executive?         |         A Friend in Deed won’t make you smoke that weed.         |         Smokers die young, be smart, don’t start.         |         Every time you light up A cigarette, you are saying that your life isn’t worth Living….        |         Don’t let being on a ventilator ultimate become, the reason you eventually quit smoking. Save lungs while you can.         |         If you can’t stop smoking…. Cancer will.         |         Cigarettes are like Squirrels. They are perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire.

Category Archives: Gutka ban in Indian states

Why 11 Indian States Banned Gutka & Pan Masala

3 September 2012, Mumbai: Meet Rajkamal Prajapati, aged 28, who was doing a job and studying for his B.Ed. Married, with two young daughters, Rajkamal was living in a little-known town called Orai in Jalaun district, UP, until cancer turned his world upside down. Currently, Rajkamal is in Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, where large parts of his tongue and tonsils were removed on 26th August 2012. Now he faces the challenges of coping with radiation therapy and relearning to talk again. It’s a steep price to pay for having chewed gutka and smoked cigarettes for only three years!

Rajkamal Prajapati of Orai, UP

Rajkamal Prajapati of Orai, UP

Unlike Rajkamal, Ramesh Chowdhury, a 65-year old daily-wage earner in Kolkata, had been eating khaini and smoking bidis for about four decades; his wife Savita took it as a part of life from the time she married him. He was recently diagnosed with cancer of the voicebox. Two weeks ago, a panic-stricken Savita rushed her husband to Mumbai by train, as he was barely able to breathe. On 27th August, the surgeons at Tata Memorial removed his voicebox. Ramesh now breathes from a hole in his throat, and stares at a bleak future.

Ramesh & Savita Chowdhury of Kolkata

Ramesh & Savita Chowdhury of Kolkata

Savita and Rajkamal have written letters to their chief ministers — Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav — urging them to immediately ban tobacco. Scores of tobacco victims are writing to their chief ministers and parliamentarians, encouraged by Voice of Tobacco Victims, which is a nationwide network of cancer surgeons, hospitals and NGOs.

Some cancer surgeons are tired of spending their lives removing tongues, jaws, throats, voiceboxes and chest parts of tobacco addicts – creating a physically and socially handicapped person — while a profit-minded tobacco industry continues to supply the toxins that made them that way. They find it difficult to stomach the fact that while saving lives through amputations, they create thousands of crippled and dependent persons.

The surgeons are finding it difficult to quietly live with the fact that oral cancer is the biggest killer of men, accounting for 42% of all male cancer-related deaths in the country, and 18.5% of female cancer-related deaths. These percentages translate to 84,000 deaths in men and 36,000 in women from tobacco-related cancers in both urban and rural areas, according to a research paper published by leading Indian surgeons in May 2012 in The Lancet, a leading medical journal. Debunking the myth that “smokeless tobacco” is a less-harmful alternative to cigarette smoking, the study states that there are twice as many deaths from oral cancer as lung cancer.

And, since oral cancer is only one of the many killer diseases that tobacco-chewing addicts suffer from, the statistics of tobacco-related deaths and disabilities are actually many multiples of the above-mentioned death toll.

About 19,000 persons died in the Bhopal gas tragedy. Tobacco-related deaths dwarf this fugure. It is a shocking fact that gutka, pan masala and such other products create the equivalent to one Bhopal gas tragedy every couple of months, or one major air-crash every day. Far from the beautiful people like Malaika Arora and Sanjay Dutt who lend their faces to such products, what surgeons see is dead and dying people, or people whose jaw, tongue or cheeks have to be amputated to save their lives.

There is now a network of 47 medical professionals all over India who are committed to seeing that gutka, pan masala and other toxic products are taken off the streets and relegated to the history books and museums. Here are their contact details:

Gutka - What the common man sees

Gutka – What the common man sees

Gutka - What cancer surgeon sees

Gutka – What the cancer surgeon sees

More pictures of gutka through the eyes of cancer surgeons:

Cancer surgeons are now pouring their energy into campaigning for getting their states to ban such products. They are getting results. In a rare display of political will, 11 states and a Union Territory recently banned gutka and other chewing tobacco products. These are Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Punjab, and the union territory of Chandigarh. The Delhi administration too committed to Delhi High Court that it will take a proper decision within a few days.

Read some ban orders:


  1. Point 2.3.4 of the notification issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) on 1st August, 2011 says, “Product not to contain any substance which may be injurious to health: Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.” Hence all smokeless tobacco products such as gutka, khaini, etc stand banned. This is as per Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and under the authority of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health.
  2. The report submitted by the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) to the Supreme Court gives evidence of various fatal diseases caused in millions of people in India by the deceptively named “smokeless tobacco”. These diseases can only be controlled by prohibiting the sale of such products. Read this report:
  3. The gutka and pan masala manufacturers are trying to escape this ban by arguing that these products are not “food” as defined under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and therefore, the Food Safety and Standards Act is not applicable. They contend that Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 – known as COTPA – is applicable, and therefore, gutka and pan masala may be regulated under COTPA but not banned under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Thankfully, this tenuous argument has failed to convince the Supreme Court. In the Godawat Pan Masala Case, the Supreme Court clearly stated that: “We are… unable to agree with the contention that pan masala or gutka does not amount to “food” within the meaning of definition in Section 2(v) of the Act.” Thus it is settled law that Gutka and Pan Masala are food products.
  4. Of course, manufacturers and distributors of “smokeless tobacco products” may approach the judiciary to fight a last-gasp battle. However, unless and until they get a stay order from the relevant High Court, Regulation 2.3.4. is the law of the land. This means that the Food & Drugs Authority of every state is mandated to implement the ban at the earliest.

In addition to the force of law, there is the great power of moral conviction. 56 Members of Parliaments, Chief Ministers, Governors and other high-profile decision-makers have signed the pledge to curb the use of chewing tobacco, to ensure that unwary people like Rajkamal Prajapati and Ramesh Chowdhury stop becoming mutilated victims. Check it out:


FOR MORE DETAILS, CONTACT Ashima Sarin, Project Director – VoTV – +91-8860786604

Gutka made me a widow. What about my right to livelihood?

To the Editors of prominent national & regional dailies in various states & cities

13 October 2012, Mumbai

Dear Sir,

Despite our protests, your esteemed dailies continue to carry front-page advertisements issued by gutka barons who can afford to pay Rs 30 lakhs for a single insertion in your newspapers. These gutka barons who live in luxurious mansions are crying wolf about the welfare of poor tobacco farmers, factory workers, gutka vendors etc. Sir, on behalf of lakhs of women whose husbands were died of cancer because of gutka addiction, and who cannot afford to issue such grand advertisements, I ask: what about the livelihood of women such as myself who are helpless in the face of the death of their husbands and bread-winners?

About 50 gutka barons are systematically murdering the husbands and breadwinners of lakhs of women like me every year for their own gain. They are actively spreading addiction among our husbands and sons. And now, to escape the ban imposed by 15 states, they whip up public sentiments by shedding crocodile tears about the poor farmers, workers and vendors, whom they exploit decade after decade.

My husband Satish Pednekar died of oral cancer in 2011 at the age of 60, because of his habit of chewing tobacco and pan masala (mawa masala). He was a great man — Maharashtra’s former home and labour minister. He was also a good husband and a wonderful father to our daughters. He had been keeping ill since 2007. His lengthy struggle against cancer ruined us financially and emotionally. Please look at the attached photos of me when my husband was by my side, Sir, and see my happiness. The gutka barons talk about fairness… and therefore I ask you: Is this fair? Tell me what I did to deserve my present grief and bereavement?

Sumitra & Satish Pednekar, former Home & Labour Minister of Maharashtra

In happier times – Late Satish Pednekar with wife Sumitra

Will the gutka barons kindly tell me why they took away my breadwinner, my husband, my life? Will the gutka barons kindly issue an advertisement telling my daughters how sorry they are for depriving them of their father? What about my right to life and livelihood? What about the right of my daughters to have the protection of their father? Why are your newspapers silent about these? Why are you reluctant to publish the true stories of the victims of tobacco?

Sumitra with her late husband Satish Pednekar in happier times

I cherish these photographs, and I cherish the good times we all had with Satish. I am sharing my treasured possessions with you in the earnest hope that they will help you see the light. This series of ads that you persist in publishing is not just a dishonest attempt to justify what cannot be justified. No, it is worse; it is like a slap on the face to me, and to lakhs of women who are in my position. These ads are like a thorn in our eyes!

Sir, please stop insulting us by publishing such blatant ads. In the name of humanity, please stop.

Yours sincerely,

Sumitra S Pednekar


Thank you Meenajee Gutkha, our favourite gutka brand

NB Group’s Meenaji Gutka is popular in Uttar Pradesh & Orissa, as these states haven’t yet banned gutka. Gutka brands like Meenajee, Talab, Kamla Pasand & Pan Parag are freely sold. Cancer patients landing up at Tata Memorial Hospital from UP and Orissa frequently report consuming NB Group’s Meenajee Gutkha. This gutka (ready-to-eat chewing tobacco mix) is sold in variations like Meenajee Mawa Masala, Meenajee Priya Gutkha and Meenaji Mix Gutkha. Two patients with oral cancer who came to Tata Memorial from Orissa made special mention of this brand. This is their tribute to their favourite brand, which they have lovingly  consumed for many years.

Late Minister’s Wife writes to TOI & HT Editors: Gutka Ads are Misinforming Readers

3 October 2012, Mumbai: Dear Sir, In the past few days, readers of the Mumbai and Delhi editions of your esteemed dailies have been targeted by a front-page advertisement issued by the gutka manufacturers’ lobby. I would like to caution you that not only is this ad full of lies and half-truths, but also, it constitutes an in-your-face contempt of court. Through this ad, the gutka industry seeks to raise an outcry against the judgments of six High Courts, including Bombay and Delhi High Court, that have ruled in favour of the ban. Sir, are you aware that by publishing this ad, you are unwittingly made into accomplices in openly defying the judiciary? Have you considered the possibility of Contempt of Court notices being issued against your newspapers and you personally?

Let me introduce myself. I am Mrs Sumitra Pednekar, wife of Maharashtra’s former home and labour minister Satish Pednekar, who died of oral cancer last year. My husband’s illness happened because of his addiction to mawa, a mix of chewing tobacco and pan masala. In his last few months, my husband could not swallow even watery dal-khichdi. My daughters and I are still struggling to come to terms with the scars left by his extended illness and tragic demise.


This ad that you have been publishing appears to be a last-gasp effort of this industry to get popular support for an unjust and inhuman industry that has made many victims like myself. Below is our rebuttal to the untruths that the ad seeks to spread. We urge you to carry this rebuttal prominently to counter the misinformation spread by the ad:

1) This ad claims, “14 states in India believe that cigarettes are healthy”. This is patently untrue because cigarettes sold everywhere are forced to prominently carry a statutory pictorial warning that states that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. There is no state in India where cigarettes are considered “healthy”.

2) The ad argues, “Gutka with lesser tobacco is banned in 14 states, while cigarettes which have more tobacco are not.” This is a deeply flawed argument. Gutka and cigarette are governed by two different legislations. Gutka is a food product containing tobacco, and cigarettes are not a food product. The sale of gutka has been banned under the Food Safety Act 2006 and Food Safety Regulations, whereas cigarettes and bidis are not governed under this act, as they are not food products. They are governed by the provisions of COTPA (Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act). The gutka manufacturers have tried hard to have it classified as “not a food”, but unfortunately for them, gutka was defined as food item by Supreme Court in the Ghodavat Pan Masala case. The license for manufacturing gutka is issued by the food ministry. So, the gutka manufacturers are trying to mislead people by equating gutka (a toxic food product) with cigarette/bidi (a harmful tobacco product that cannot be eaten). Please note, there is no ban on tobacco, which is simply an agricultural crop and a naturally occurring plant material. However, there is a ban on adding this plant material into any food meant for human ingestion, because it is toxic. Food Safety Act bans adding known toxins in food.

3) The ad claims, “One pouch of gutka contains 0.2 g of tobacco, compared to 0.63 g in one cigarette”. This statistic tries to imply that less tobacco is safer. That is incorrect. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption, and it is harmful in any quantity and in all forms. This fact is well recognized by Govt. of India, which is doing a lot to minimize its consumption in all forms.

4) The ad claims, “A cigarette has 4000 chemicals, as opposed to 3000 in smokeless tobacco”. This is a meaningless statistic thrown at half-literate people to mislead them. It has no scientific basis whatsoever.

5) The ad claims, “Unlike cigarettes, gutka is not harmful for others around you”. This is an effort to obfuscate the issue of gutka ban with the second-hand smoking issue. It implies that consuming gutka is a “victimless crime”, and that the gutka-eater is not harming anyone in society. That is untrue. When a person consuming gutka suffers from oral cancer, his entire family is the sufferer; who should know this better than I? In many cases, the cheeks, upper and lower jaws of the gutka consumer are removed. Such a person is unable to eat or speak normally, and must overcome many hurdles to function as in society and in any occupation. The spouse of the gutka addict is a victim of his consumption in economic and social terms. Every gutka addicts who contracts oral cancer creates 4-5 scarred victims created in his family, for whom life will never be the same again. There is no complete cure. Even after surgery and treatment, such people and their families live in the lifelong fear of recurrence. Tata Memorial Hospital is full of such victims, queuing up for treatment and post-surgical checkups.

6) Lastly, the ad claims, “Thousands of small gutka manufacturers are being shut down by the powerful lobby of cigarette companies”. The effort here is to paint the powerful and influential gutka lobby in the colours of a victim. It is most emphatically not a victim, but the perpetrator of a crime against humanity that is at long last being curbed. The in states gutka bans are not happening because of the cigarette lobby, but because of a central legislation, namely the Food Safety Act 2006, which is simply being implemented by the states. It is happening because the government is simply doing its mandated duty to improve the nutritional status of its citizens, by preventing adulterants and toxic substances from being added into foods.

May we once again remind you that the ban on gutka has been imposed after the High Courts of Rajasthan, MP, Bihar, Kerala, Bombay and Delhi applied their mind to the gutka manufacturers’ pleas for stay on the ban, and rejected their pleas? By challenging this ban through advertisements, the gutka manufacturers are treading on extremely dangerous territory… and so are you. In the interest of your readers, and in your own interest, we would urge you not to publish such ads.

With Best Wishes,
Sumitra Satish Pednekar

Punjab is 11th State to Announce Gutka Ban

Punjab has also joined the list of States that have banned gutka as per Food Safety Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation 2011. Punjab became the 11th state to announce the ban.

This is a result of advocacy by Dr. Prahlad Duggal, a Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) Patron, with the Chief Minister and other policy makers.  Also, Dr. Duggal got the Jathedar (Leader) of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji, to sign a pledge campaigned by VoTV to protect Punjab from the perils of tobacco chewing.

More info & media coverage:


Victims of Tobacco & Gutka speak out in Hyderabad

Dr Vijayanand Reddy with support from the Regional Cancer Centre of Hyderabad organized a VoTV event on 22nd August 2012 in Hyderabad.

Dr Kishore Mongaluru from the World Health Organization, Mr. Pravin Prakash, FDA Commissioner attended the event.

VoTV members (cancer patients) and their families shared their agony about how gutka and pan masala usage addiction had caused oral cancer and great suffering for the entire family. FDA assured support to the VOTV patrons for the gutka ban.

News Coverage

Delhi HC directs Delhi Govt to implement smokeless tobacco products ban

In a PIL filed by Doctors for You (DFY) — a partner of Voice of Tobacco Victims — against the state of Delhi for failing to ban gutkha and other chewing tobacco products. Gutkha, zarda, pan masala, gul, bajjar and such other toxic and addictive forms of chewing tobacco are mandated to be banned by various states, as per  Regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 made under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The court was pleased to pass an order directing the Delhi Government to implement Regulation 2.3.4 within two weeks.

The PIL was on board on August 22, 2012. Advocate Varun Chopra appeared on behalf of  Doctors for You.

Media Coverage:

MLA sensitization to Gutka in Karnataka

MLA sensitization & GATS Factsheet release in Karnataka

MLA sensitization & GATS Factsheet release in Karnataka

On July 24, 2012: The Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, in collaboration with the Voice of Tobacco Victims, the District Anti Tobacco cell (Bangalore Urban) and Government of Karnataka organized one hour program on MLA sensitization and GATS fact sheet release in the Hall of the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka. This was attended by the Chief Minister, Chairman of the Legislative Council, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Leader of Opposition, Govt of Karnataka, Minister of Medical Education, around 30 legislators and some bureaucrats.

Dr Vishal Rao facilitated VoTV members (cancer patients) in addressing  the gathering and explaining their suffering due to tobacco addiction. The stressed the need for governments to implement tobacco control policies and gutka ban to prevent deaths and suffering from tobacco use. The Chief Minister of Karnataka officially released the GATS fact sheet in presence of other dignitaries. He then addressed the gathering highlighting GATS (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) findings and reiterating his government’s commitment to advance tobacco control in the state.

Over 22 stories appeared in print media. Two TV Channels broadcasted the program live.

More info:

Jammu & Kashmir MLAs Sensitized to Tobacco & Gutka

Voluntary Health Association in collaboration with Voice of Tobacco Victims organized an MLA sensitization program in Srinagar on July 18, 2012. Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Speaker chaired the session and there were 40 legislative members. Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Oncologist from Tata Memorial Hospital, conducted a VoTV event. Seema Gupta from Voluntary Health Association of India gave presentation on issues of tobacco in J&K. The CM and Speaker assured support for tobacco control and to save lives in J&K.

Anti-tobacco groups applaud gutka ban in six states

Six states have banned gutka and other chewable tobacco products. The anti-tobacco lobby is calling it a major victory. While the country is fighting the larger battle to ban gutka, Sarfabad in Uttar Pradesh has become the third village to go tobacco free. The Panchayat there decided to ban gutka after several young people succumbed to critical diseases.

A villager, Sukhbir Singh, said, “There is a Rs 1,000 fine on anyone who sells gutka and a Rs 500 fine on anyone who eats it.”

Almost a year since the new Food Safety law banned foods with tobacco and nicotine content, six states have banned gutka, khaini and pan masala.

Madhya Pradesh took the first step followed by Kerala and Bihar. Maharashtra banned both gutka and pan masala. After Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, Haryana is expected to ban gutka soon and Goa had already banned it under the public health act.

Public health experts say it is a huge health relief, as India battles 80,000 new oral cancer cases every year.

Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital, said, “India is the highest producer of mouth cancers. Apart from that there are several precancerous conditions like Submucous fibrosis in which the mouth of the person doesn’t open.”

Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India said, “It’s not just the nicotine, the heavy metals are particularly dangerous and this has been found to be in high quantities in gutka.”

Till about a year ago, gutka reigned as a Rs 20,000 crore industry. But now the gutka industry is admitting to losses, and argues that gutka should not be considered as food at all.

Sanjay Bechan, Executive Director, Smokeless Tobacco Federation of India, “The industry is deteriorating once the Supreme Court banned packaging. We were reduced to almost 60 per cent of our size and now this ban by states. Since states are banning, we have suffered losses. Gutka is a scheduled tobacco product. So my legal position is very clear, I am not food, I am tobacco. It’s unscientific and undemocratic of the government to ban gutka.”

Yet, 5 million children in India are already addicted to oral tobacco and more than 5,000 start using gutka every day.


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