GUWAHATI: In his letter to Assam Health and Family Welfare Minster, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that "Tobacco use is a major threat to public health globally. Smokeless tobacco users have a tendency to spread in public places or otherwise and therefore, increase the risks especially of spreading infectious and contagious diseases like COVID-19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis, etc. The use of smokeless tobacco also creates unhygienic environment which further spreads these diseases. Large gatherings at the retail outlets where smokeless tobacco products are sold also pose the risk of spread of COVID-19."
"We applaud the Assam Government for timely ban on the sale of tobacco products and spitting in public places in the State. We appeal to the Government for levying stringent penalties against violators to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. We urge the Government for strict implementation to protect the health of the people of Assam and reduce their vulnerability to COVID 19 infection," said advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary Consumers' Legal Protection Forum, Assam.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also appealed to the general public not to consume and spit smokeless tobacco products in public. "Chewing smokeless tobacco products (Gutka, Pan Masala with tobacco, paan and other swing tobacco products) and areca nut (supari) increase 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," stated ICMR.