Bill to ban zarda, pan masala in Assam

India, July 17 -- Assam has taken the lead in tabling a bill in the assembly to ban zarda, gutkha, pan masala and all other forms of smokeless and chewing tobacco. It is expected to be passed by the end of the ongoing monsoon session.

The bill prescribes a maximum prison term of seven years with a fine ranging from Rs. 1-5 lakh for violators. It also warrants a ban on all forms of advertising of such products.

Tabling the bill in the assembly on Tuesday, health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Assam was the first state to go for legislation against chewable products containing tobacco.

"The Assam Health (Provision of Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution, Sale and Consumption of Zarda, Gutkha, Pan Masala Containing Tobacco and all forms of Smokeless and Chewing Tobacco) Bill, 2013 is being tabled in public interest although it will entail for the government a loss of Rs. 20 crore in revenue annually," Sarma said.

Any violation of the provisions of the Bill, he added, would be a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.