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New Delhi  : As per the National Cancer Registry Programme of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the estimated number of mortality due to cancer of mouth was 34,668, 37,212 and 39,951 in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. These estimates are, however, subject to certain limitations on data. Also, there is no separate data available to ascribe the above deaths to Pan Masala consumption.

Standards of Pan Masala are specified under sub-regulations 2.11.5 of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has not issued any direction to ban Pan Masala. However, as per provisions of sub-regulation 2.4.5 (3) of Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, every package of Pan Masala and advertisement relating thereto is required to carry the following warning, namely-“Chewing of Pan Masala is injurious to health’

Further, sub-regulation 2.3.4 of Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011, provides that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food product, which includes Pan Masala also.

Enforcement of provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, Rules & Regulations made thereunder primarily lies with States/UTs. As per sub-section 2 of Section 30 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Commissioners of Food Safety has been conferred with power to prohibit injurious products in the interest of Public Health. Accordingly, most of the States/UTs have already banned products including gutkha and panmasala containing tobacco and nicotine.

To comply with the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, Rules and Regulations made thereunder, regular surveillance, monitoring, sampling of food items including Pan Masala is done and inspections are carried out by Food Safety Officials of States/UTs. In cases where samples are found to be not conforming to the provisions of the Act and the Rules and Regulations made thereunder, recourse is taken to the penal provisions under Chapter IX of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.

The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare) Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on  November 19, 2019, according to a PIB release.

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