'Aapada Mein Avasar': How Women Employees Turned Gutka Smuggling Into A Lucrative Business

'Aapada Mein Avasar': How Women Employees Turned Gutka Smuggling Into A Lucrative Business

India is one of the third largest producer and exporter (in tonnage) of tobacco products, with over million adults in India using smokeless tobacco, the nation's struggle with this public health crisis is far from over.

G R MukeshUpdated: Tuesday, May 28, 2024, 01:11 PM IST
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Gutka | AFP

What happens when public health ban fails to curb a filthy habit? Despite having a nationwide ban on Gutka, the smokeless tobacco - a mixture of tobacco, areca nuts, and other additives introduced by the states in 2012, this substances continues to wreak havoc on the population.

India is one of the third largest producer and exporter (in tonnage) of tobacco products, with over million adults in India using smokeless tobacco, the nation's struggle with this public health crisis is far from over.

In a recent post on X, formerly Twitter, Akshay, the founder of a women's wear brand, Mlada, shared his experience and revealing how simple ban of Gutka within factory premises can lead to unexpected ingenuity and underground economy among workers.

Having frustrated by the consumption of Gutka in his factory among the workers, he implemented thorough security checks and searches at the factory gates, so that workers can no longer able to bring gutka inside the factory openly.

However, despite having stringent measures, he noticed that Gutka use continues among the male employees.

To his surprise, Akshay added, that the women worker has devised a clever method to smuggle the Gutka packets into the factory. The method they used was to hide the Gutka packets within their clothes and managed to pass the security checks.

Sensing this as a better opportunity, the women workers turned this smuggling of gutka packets into a profitable side business, selling it to their male colleagues within the factory walls.

The story of these women employees sneaking gutka and making money raises important questions about work place culture, employee welfare and the unintended consequences of the well-intentioned policies.

GATS Report

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2016-17 report, one in four people who use smokeless tobacco buy it loose.

Also, a large number around 89 per cent of minors aged 15-17 reported buying smokeless tobacco from stores or kiosks. Also there reports suggesting women involvement in selling these products, especially in informal settings.

In India, the tobacco industry is mostly made up of small-scale, rural producers, especially for smokeless tobacco and bidis (hand-rolled cigarettes).

Telangana government Ban

Recently, the Telangana government banned the manufacture, storage, distribution, and sale of gutka and pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine across the state.

This ban is effective for one year, starting from May 24, 2024.

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