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Multiple states ban smokeless tobacco

11 May 2020. Over 25 states and union territories in India, including Gujarat and Delhi, have banned the use of smokeless tobacco and spitting in public places in view of COVID-19, reported Deccan Herald.

Officials for the Union Health Ministry originally called for the ban on April 1 in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. In a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, the ministry stated, "Chewing smokeless tobacco products, paan masala and areca nut (supari) increases the production of saliva followed by a very strong urge to spit. Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive at Voluntary Health Association of India, told the Deccan Herald, "We applaud the government of India for taking the timely step of imposing a ban on the use of tobacco products and spitting in public places to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 virus.

According to the report, Dr Rakesh Gupta, a consultant working for Tobacco Cessation, stated, "The ministry of health and state health departments should promote quitting tobacco maximally through electronic and social media to take advantage of the situation in which tobacco users are away from their usual triggers to use tobacco- shop, co-workers, stress, etc. and being at home, majority have the social support needed to quit.