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Chewing tobacco ban delayed so retailers can clear stocks

India's Himachal Pradesh government has delayed a ban on making, storing and selling gutka – a cheap mix of tobacco, crushed areca nut and other ingredients – less than a week after imposing it.

SHIMLA, INDIA // The Himachal Pradesh government has delayed a ban on making, storing and selling gutka – a cheap mix of tobacco, crushed areca nut and other ingredients – less than a week after imposing it.

The ban on gutka and other tobacco products has been put off until October 2, according to a statement quoting the chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. It said the decision was made after retailers appealed to be able to exhaust their stocks.

Himachal Pradesh has joined a handful of states, including Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, to impose a total ban on gutka.

Medical authorities say gutka is mainly responsible for India's 75,000 to 80,000 new cases of oral cancer a year, the highest in the world, according to the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.