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Stringent laws banning gutka have had a positive impact on consumers in Maharashtra and many have agreed that they consume less since the ban was enforced, according to a report released today. The Maharashtra state report is part of a larger eight- state research study undertaken last year by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Centre for Communication and Change-India (CCC-I), New Delhi with support from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Institute for Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Office for India. The findings specific to the state of Maharashtra were released from a study that had been conducted across the country to understand the impact of state laws that ban the sale and distribution of gutka. The study aimed to understand the impact of state laws that ban the sale and distribution of Gutka.
It was conducted in eight states including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Maharashtra, surveys were conducted in the districts of Thane and Mumbai with current and former gutka users and tobacco product retailers to determine the impact and effectiveness of the gutka ban. In addition, observations of 60 retail environments and in-depth interviews with government officials, enforcement officials and citizens working with civil society groups were conducted to find out different stakeholders' reaction to the ban. Considering the harmful effects of gutka and paan Masala, the Maharashtra government disallowed the sale, manufacture, distribution and storage of gutka from July 19, 2012. Of the respondents who continue to use pre-packaged gutka, a considerable proportion - about 83 per cent -- reported that they consume less since the ban. The study also showed that there is a universal agreement that gutka ban is good for the health of the youth in the country with 99 per cent responding affirmatively in support of the ban. Of the respondents who quit since ban, more than half -- 51 per cent -- reported to attempting to stop using gutka after the ban came into place. Fifty three per cent of respondents agreed that gutka bans will help people to quit. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India report-2009-10, current smokeless tobacco users comprise 28 per cent of the total adult population of Maharashtra. About 35 per cent of males and 19 per cent of females above 15 years of age fall in the current user category.