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Open Access Observed Circumvention of the Gutka Smokeless Tobacco Ban in Mumbai, India

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Objectives: Gutka is industrially manufactured in India and some Indian states have instituted bans on the sale of manufactured gutka as a public health initiative. We explored whether gutka was still available for purchase after the ban and also sought to observe methods of ban circumvention. Methods: We visited 5 different markets at different locations separated by at least 15-20 km around the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) area, consisting of Mumbai and its satellite towns in Maharashtra, India during August- September, 2019. In each location, purveyors were queried as to the availability of gutka. Results: Tobacco purchases were made in 5 locations/sections of MMR. At all markets, banned gutka was not displayed, and could only be purchased after requesting from the shopkeeper. Three methods of ban circumvention were observed: (1) packages marked 'export only'; (2) use of twin packaging in which pan masala and tobacco are sold together for immediate mixing to create gutka; and, (3) non-descript packaging without mention of 'gutka'. Conclusions: Although not readily displayed in shops, gutka is readily available in MMR, despite a statewide ban in Maharashtra. Marketers have used multiple methods to circumvent the statewide gutka ban.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 2020

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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