PATNA: The Bihar health department plans to write to the Union health ministry, requesting it to include ‘khaini’ as a food product under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
‘Khaini’ is said to be a pure form of tobacco. Tobacco per se is not banned. Pure tobacco is not covered by the food safety wing.
Confirming the state health department’s move, department’s principal secretary Sanjay Kumar said on Thursday there was also a need to create awareness through different mediums about the harmful effects of tobacco.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS), an organisation collaborating in the state government’s effort to control tobacco use, on Thursday wrote to the state health department to include ‘khaini’ as a food product under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
“Khaini is the most prevalent form of smokeless tobacco used in Bihar. As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-2 of 2016-17, 25.9% of the state’s population use tobacco in different forms and 20.4% of them are addicted to ‘khaini’,” SEEDS executive director Deepak Mishra told this reporter.
The Centre had formed a Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force earlier this year. The first meeting of the task force chaired by Union health ministry secretary Preeti Sudan was held in Delhi on Thursday.
“Three civil societies, including SEEDS, have been roped in to support the task force. I presented a similar motion against ‘khaini’ at the meeting. The secretary asked FSSAI officials to look into the possibility of accepting ‘khaini’ as a food product,” Mishra said.
The state health department’s food safety wing on May 21 this year banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of guthka and pan masala (with tobacco and nicotine) for the next one year.
Earlier, the State Health Society Bihar, in order to curb consumption of tobacco by minors at hookah bars and sheesha lounges, had issued a letter to all the DMs and civil surgeons to shut down all the illegal lounges in the state. It had also asked the authorities concerned in the districts to remove hoardings and banners advertising tobacco products.