products which are being marketed in India contains about 3095 chemical
components which have serious health implications with about 28 of these
components being carcinogenic. Areca nut is the most commonly used carcinogen. Latest
studies have demonstrated the presence of heavy metals like nickel, lead,
cadmium, chromium and arsenic in these products. Studies have revealed abundant
presence of Tobacco-specific N-Nitrosamines (TSNA) and even radioactive
polonium in smokeless forms of tobacco products. There is no safe level for
TSNA's. There is an increased risk of cancer mortality and death due to
cardiovascular diseases in smokeless tobacco users.
30% gutkha brands that are available in the market exceed the provisional tolerable intake limits of lead and copper stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO). The Union Health Ministry is in a discussion with the Agriculture Ministry to persuade the tobacco cultivators to grow some other crops.
The Government has agreed that pictorial warnings of lung X-ray or the scorpion on the sachets of these products have not been successful in arresting the use of tobacco among people as many do not understand the meaning of these pictorial depictions. The Ministry feels that there is a need for regulation on the production and sale of these products as increasing number of youngsters and women are beginning to use them and many of the users are daily users (21.4%). Government officials have also stated that it is of no use to ban tobacco products in one state. The ban should be on a nationwide basis.