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Indians want their fix of gutkha & pan masala despite ban

It’s not without reason that India tops the list of smokeless tobacco users in the world with nearly 83 per cent consumers. Indians are so addicted to flavoured tobacco — pan masala and gutkha to be precise — that despite the ban on its manufacture and sale in 11 states so far, consumers are still getting hold of their daily fix, courtesy contraband sales.

The ban in Delhi and 10 other states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Mizoram, Kerala and Bihar, among others, has resulted in black marketing of the product. This has impacted price, which has gone up significantly.

Consider this: A sachet of branded pan masala such as Rajnigandha (from Delhi-based DS Group) and Manikchand (from Pune-based Dhariwal Group) has almost doubled to Rs 15 from Rs 8 in the last two months. Local brands that cost Rs 2 are now available for Rs 5, while gutkha is available for Rs 3 from Rs 2 earlier.

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