A study by the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR) has found that many of the toothpaste manufacturers are adulterating toothpastes and tooth-powders with high quantity of nicotine.
“Out of the 24 brands of toothpastes studied in 2011, seven brands — Colgate Herbal, Himalaya, Neem paste, Neem Tulsi, RA Thermoseal, Sensoform and Stoline — were found to contain nicotine,” said Professor S. S. Agarwal of DIPSAR, which is affiliated to the Delhi University and is funded by the Delhi government.
“Colgate Herbal and Neem Tulsi, also a herbal product, surprisingly had 18 and 10 mg of nicotine, which is equivalent to the quantity found in nine and five cigarettes respectively,” Prof Agarwal added.
“Out of the ten brands of tooth-powders examined, six — Dabur Red, Vicco, Musaka Gul, Payokil, Unadent and Alka Dantmanjan — were found to contain nicotine. Payokil was found to have the highest 16 mg of tobacco, which is equivalent of what a person consumes after smoking eight cigarettes,” he said.
“Vicco was found to have used tobacco consecutively for three years in its tooth-powder, while Dabur Red resumed mixing tobacco in 2011 after stopping it in 2008,” Prof Agarwal said.
The findings were, however, strongly refuted by the manufacturers of some of the dental creams and tooth-powders named by DIPSAR.
Violating the Law
According to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, tobacco cannot be added to non- tobacco products like toothpastes and tooth-powders. Section 7(5) of the Act lays down that every tobacco package should have nicotine and tar contents along with the maximum permissible limits, which is not being done by these toothpaste manufacturers.
Moreover, as nicotine and tar are carcinogens, the manufacturers should mention them among contents along with their permissible limits on the packages to help people make an informed choice.
Prof Agarwal said that he has now written to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, drug controller-general of India and Delhi drug controller about the rampant tobacco adulteration in tooth-powders and toothpastes. “Addition of tobacco is banned under central excise but it is still being added; do they forward it to the drug controller- general of India? Nicotine action is believed to be responsible for the drug induced feeling of pleasure and addiction, said Prof Agarwal.