Electronic cigarettes are greatly opposed because of their nicotine contents, although not all devices contain and dispense the addictive substance. Apparently, while officials were busy banning ecigs and gutka, nicotine gums now thrive in the market and targeting kids in India.
Incidentally, a mother from Koramangala who is also working as a banker shockingly discovered while walking to her son’s school that some children were chewing nicotine gums. She was later even more shocked when her 11-year old son told him that he once consumed the gums that tasted like ordinary gums.
Aliased only as Padma M, the concerned mother asked so other parents who told her that their children have been complaining of dizziness after they chewed the gums with nicotine. She warned them not to let their kids have those products again. Padma later went to and asked the aid of some child activists in filing complaints to the food safety commissioner.
Banned In India
Apparently in India, selling nicotine and/or tobacco in any food product form is prohibited. Kids are the most vulnerable consumer group of the illegal products.
Various brands are packed attractively and then sold in super bazaars, pan shops and malls. Many of these outlets are even within school vicinity. Gums are sold in packs of 6 for Rs 30 per pack while packs of 10 are sold Rs 50 per pack. They look like ordinary guns so unsuspecting children are hooked.
Complaints From The Public
Food authorities have received at least 6 public complaints and also related memorandum from the child welfare activists demanding that the nicotine laced gums be kept away from children.
The public health institute, after receiving the complaints, issued an order last March 3 ordering field officers to collect product samples and also take appropriate actions to those law violators.
It was mentioned on the order that children are possibly consuming the gums and are addicted to the nicotine added to the products and thereby causing ill effects on their health.
Dr. Jaya Kimar, the joint director of public health institute said that they have warned manufacturers before. He added they will also perform random raids on outlets and shops so as to ensure no products will be sold.
Apparently, it was found that the banned products are still widely available in the majority of shops. Shop owner do not even know the products are not supposed to be sold to children.
Spawning New Generation Of Addicts
Sindhu Naik is an NGO Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare member who said that chewing the gums with nicotine push children to addiction. Long term use of such gums could lead to shortness of breath, regular flu, heart problems, lung ailments, etc.
She added parents and teachers cannot detect that children are using nicotine since they are mostly looking only for smoke signs. Nutritionist Dr. S Raghu stated that parents must be watchful of what children are eating outside their schools.
Effects of nicotine consumption differ in each child of different ages. Questions about what they eat should be asked if children complain about vomiting sensation, dizziness, etc.
Such gum products with nicotine are banned by the law specifically by Food Safety and Quality Act 2006 Column 3. Any food material with nicotine is outlawed by the state. Child welfare activist Pramodini K said that this problem results from inadequate monitoring.
Only one department like the health department cannot completely and effectively implement the law. Numerous departments need to work together in order to implement policies efficiently. Manufacturers have found this lack of proper law implementation to their advantages. Their gm packs do not even contain warnings on them such as those on cigarette packs.
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