New Delhi: With 14 state governments banning gutkha, an association working for the welfare of smokeless tobacco growers has termed the ban as "discriminatory", saying cigarettes and beedis were still being sold in the market. Smokeless Tobacco Association also said the sale of gutkha cannot be banned under the Food Safety and Standards Regulation Act-2011 as it has been done now, as gutkha has been classified as a tobacco product under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003 (COTPA). Members of the association met Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and explained to him how the ban on gutkha in 14 states, as advised by the Centre, was affecting the lives of four crore people who eke out their living by growing tobacco, said CK Sharma, a member of the association.
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