Patna: With more than half of Bihar's population consuming harmful tobacco and its products, the state government, which imposed a ban on gutka early this year, has decided to launch a vigorous drive against its sale.

"Special squads will be constituted at state and district levels comprising officials from police, health and education to catch people selling or consuming cigarette and tobacco products," Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters.

Bihar had imposed a ban on gutka in May this year. He said an awareness drive would be organised in schools across the state on November 9 against the consumption of tobacco and its products.

He would soon convene a meeting of hotels and restaurant owners in Patna to inform them that they would also be penalised if someone was found smoking or consuming tobacco in their premises.

Modi, who attended an international conference against tobacco in New York early this month, reeled out figures to show that the problem had assumed dangerous proportions in the state and the country.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 53.5 percent of Bihar's population was consuming tobacco or products made out of it. Of these, 66 percent were men, he said while expressing concern over the situation.


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