During the times of lockdown when all economic activities were halted, Pan Masala makers both original and duplicate made a killing and sold the pouches at a premium.
The COVID-19 restrictions have crippled the Indian economy but a sector of the economy made big profits. The Pan Masala or what is known in local lingo as Gutka is a mixture of areca nut, slaked lime, paraffin and catechu along with tobacco, which is virtually poison.
Research has shown that the toxic mixture contains more than 40 carcinogenic ingredients. Still, the State Government allows the business to flourish. The sale of pan masala in the Hindi belt is so massive to entice smaller and more dubious players who make duplicate Pan Masala of reputed brands.
According to Bhaskar News goods worth, 1 Crore was seized in a raid by police on two factories that were making duplicate Pan Masala of reputed brands. On interrogation, the owners of which the main accused is absconding revealed that they have sold the duplicate Pan Masala worth crores of rupees in the past two years.
Duplicate Pan Masala Sales raged during the lockdown
This is only the tip of the iceberg. During the times of lockdown when all economic activities were halted, Pan Masala makers both original and duplicate made a killing and sold the pouches at a premium. The well-oiled machinery which includes conniving police officers and Food and Drug officials, a systematic chain is working which fulfil the enormous demands of Pan Masala pouches in cities as well as the rural hinterland.
Pan Masala has been regularly indicted for causing cancer and other debilitating ailments. The areca nut used in Pan Masala is addictive and once the person develops a taste for it is very difficult to kick the habit. The problem is especially grave in the villages where even kids have become addicted to Pan Masala. The law specifies that Tobacco products must not be sold to minors. However, the law is seldom enforced.
Pan Masala More Dangerous Than Smoking
Chewing Pan Masala is even more dangerous than smoking. Smoking involves only 20% of the toxins which are absorbed by the body, while 80% is exhaled. These 20% toxins are enough to cause irreparable damage to the human body. Imagine if 100% nicotine is absorbed by the body as is the case with Pan Masala, one can just imagine the havoc it will cause to the body.
A section of the industry that represents the interests of the areca nut industry is resisting the moves to ban Tobacco and Pan Masala products completely. The argument is that a large section of the population will become unemployed. However, the government must realize that the rehabilitation costs of a person addicted to tobacco products is much greater than the revenue generated by selling such products. In the interests of the people, the State governments in the Hindi belt must enforce this ban on Gutka or Pan Masala.