The Supreme Court today ordered a ban on the sale of tobacco products like gutkha and pan masala in plastic pouches from March 2011. Further, the apex court has asked the government to conduct a survey on the ill effects of consumption of these products within eight weeks.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly also asked manufacturers to explore alternative packaging material for the products, and finalise on the same by March next year.
The bench issued the directions ignoring the pleas of manufacturers who harbour reservations that compliance with the order could lead to closure of thousands of gutkha and pan masala manufacturing units.
When the counsel of a manufacturer pointed out that the whole industry could come to a standstill, the bench said, ''let it come.''
The ban would not apply to cigarettes, as these are sold in paper backs.
While asking the government to conduct a survey the ill effects of these tobacco products, the bench also called on the government to investigate the health implications of packaging of the products in plastic pouches.
The bench recorded an undertaking from solicitor general Gopal Subramanium that the government would get the National Institute of Public Health conduct a survey on the harmful effects of gutkha, pan masala and other tobacco products and also the adverse effects, if any, of the plastic pouches used for packaging the material.