Consumer organisations and public health experts have made a strong plea to the Madhya Pradesh government to continue its ban on sale and use of tobacco products and spitting in public places, saying such a step is imperative to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the state.
While reiterating the necessity for this ban, they referred to a recent appeal made by Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan to all state health ministers, asking them to ban the sale and use of smokeless tobacco products and spitting in their states. In his letter to the Health Ministers Harsh Vardhan talked about tobacco use being a major threat to public health globally. Smokeless tobacco users have a tendency to spit in public places or otherwise and therefore, increase health risks, especially those of spreading infectious and contagious diseases like COVID-19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis etc.
The use of smokeless tobacco also creates unhygienic environment which further spreads the diseases. Large gatherings at the retail outlets, where smokeless tobacco products are sold, also pose the risk of spread of COVID-19, he stated in the letter.While appreciating the efforts of the Jharkhand and Rajasthan governments for completely banning the sale of tobacco products and spitting in public places, he urged Madhya Pradesh Health Minister Narottam Mishra to take similar measures and also create widespread awareness regarding harms of spitting in public places.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had issued directions to all states and Union Territories to prohibit the use and spitting of chewing tobacco like gutka, khaini, paan masala and areca nut (supari) products in public places to prevent the coronavirus spread.
The guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs also stipulate that spitting in public places shall be punishable with fine and consumption of pan, gutka and tobacco etc in public places is not allowed.