Coimbatore: Health minister Ma Subramanian on Tuesday said the state government would amend the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, or pass a new legislation, if required, to continue the ban on tobacco products.
The minister, who was in the city to attend the white coat ceremony at the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital and the ESIC Hospital, and administer Hippocratic oath to the medical students there, also appealed the shopkeepers in the state not to sell tobacco products, as they were posing serious health risks to people.
“Shopkeepers should ponder over whether to sell something that will endanger people’s health and use the proceeds from the same for their livelihood. When there are many other items in the shop, why indulge in selling tobacco products? I appeal them to stay away from selling the same,” he said.
The state government had in 2013 imposed a ban on tobacco and gutka products, using a temporary provision under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The ban was subsequently extended every year through notifications. Recently, the Madras high court had quashed the temporary notification.
A M Vikrama Raja, president, Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Association, had recently sought the state government’s response to the court order and whether tobacco products could be sold in shops.
“The state government will appeal against the high court order. We will amend the act or pass a new legislation, if required, to continue the ban on tobacco products,” Ma Subramanian clarified.
He said chief minister M K Stalin would open 500 health and wellness centres across the state in February. While Coimbatore has been allotted 72 health and wellness centres, 50-60 of them would be inaugurated then, he said. At least 64 of the 72 health and wellness centres would be in the city corporation limits.
The minister said the number of outpatients in the government hospitals had doubled now compared to 2018-19. “To provide better care for the increasing number of patients, vacancies are being filled up. The chief minister will issue 4,308 appointment orders to fill various posts in the government hospitals at an event to be held in Chennai on February 3.”
Subramanian said efforts were on to make Tamil Nadu a tuberculosis free state by 2025.
The minister dedicated medical equipment worth 2.73 crore to various hospitals in the state under the ‘Innuyir Kaapoom-Nammai Kaakkum 48’ scheme on the day. The ESIC Hospital got medical equipment worth 56 lakh. He said 1, 41, 923 people had benefited from the scheme so far. The state government has spent 125.42 crore under the scheme.