Guwahati: The Assam government on Tuesday tabled a bill in the state assembly seeking to prohibit manufacture, advertisement, sale and consumption of zarda, gutkha and pan masala containing tobacco in the state.

The Assam Health (Prohibition of Manufacturing, Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution Sale and Consumption of Zarda, Gurkha, Panmasala etc containing tobacco) Bill, 2013, was tabled by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The bill, once passed, will ban manufacturing and production of all forms of smokeless and chewing tobacco in the state.

Although the implementation of the bill will result in a financial loss to the tune of Rs 20 crore annually to the state exchequer, yet the government has proposed legislation to improve public health and prevent incidence of cancer and other health hazards, said Sarma.

Once passed, it will make violation of the law a punishable offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and with fine not less than Rs 1 lakh, and extending to Rs 5 lakh.

According to the proposed bill, any person consuming or in possession of zarda, gutkha, or panmasala containing tobacco shall be punished with a fine of Rs 1,000 for the first offence and Rs 2,000 for the second offence and subsequent offence.

(Agencies)

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