What is Pan Parag

Maharashtra revokes ban on pan masala until panel’s decision

The ban on sale of flavored areca nut - pan masala - has been revoked by the state government from July 21, according to a circular by the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dated July 17.

The letter by the FDA states that a single-member committee will be formed to look into the ban on areca nut and till their decision is known, its sale will be permitted. Meanwhile, the ban on gutka, in force since 2013, will continue.

The state’s move has addressed public health experts fighting against the sale of products that have cancer causing agents.

“Areca nut is a known carcinogen. It is present in pan masala, the sale of which was banned, but now the government is reconsidering it, which is shocking, ”said professor Pankaj Chaturvedi, Tata Memorial Hospital who treats head and neck cancers.

“The World Health Organization and several studies in India have proven beyond doubt that pan masala causes serious health hazards including mouth and throat cancer. All the research material has already been submitted to the FDA several times for the past 5 years. Our state is bound to become a laughing stock if the ban isn’t continued, ”he added.

Incidentally, Maharashtra was the first state to ban gutka in July 2013. A year later, a ban on pan masala was brought in force.

Dr Pallavi Garade, food safety commissioner, FDA, could not be reached despite numerous attempts, however an FDA official who did not wish to be named told HT that the decision to reconsider the ban on the sale of scented areca nut was taken as there was growing pressure from lobbyists. “There were several appeals made to the CM (chief minister), regarding the ban on areca nut,” he added.

Dr Kailash Sharma, director (Academics) Tata Memorial Hospital said in a letter to the state, “We sincerely urge you to continue the ban on flavored chewing tobacco and flavored supari (Pan Masal) permanently to save our future generations. Currently, the ban is applicable for only one year and it has to be renewed annually.

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