Consumer VOICE has been tirelessly fighting against the menace of tobacco. In one of its efforts to bring to the notice of the government that COTPA Act is openly, flouted, the field research team observed 30 schools in Delhi and to its dismay found cigarettes and tobacco products being sold openly by kiosks in close vicinity to the school. Read on the complete report published in a leading National Daily.
Tobacco products are still being sold close to schools, both private and government, despite restrictions on kiosks or shops within 100 yards of a school to help curb tobacco menace in children. Observational visit was undertaken by Consumer Voice Delhi, an organisation working on consumer issues, covered 30 schools in south and east Delhi. They found tobacco being sold in 11 schools. The non-government organisation covered both government and private schools.
“As our field research proved, there’s a deadly infiltration of tobacco products around schools despite laws banning the same. Children are being lured into trying out tobacco, which ultimately becomes a habit leading to deadly health consequences. We urge the Delhi government to ensure there are no kiosks or shops near schools and that they should be removed from the 100-yard vicinity of schools to help curb tobacco menace to save innocent children. Tobacco is openly available near educational institutions despite a ban on its sale within 100 yards of a school campus,” said Ashim Sanyal, the chief operating officer of Consumer Voice.
The violation, according to those working in the field of tobacco control, is happening despite government claims about taking several stringent measures to curb the menace of tobacco products, and sale of tobacco products in shops near schools and colleges is on a high. This is a violation of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.
Tobacco products are easily available to school students
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare among students across the country, 14.6% of 13 to 15-year-olds students use tobacco. Of these, 8.1% students smoked tobacco. As many as 11% of all male students surveyed were found to be users of smoking or smokeless tobacco, while 6% of female students used smokeless tobacco and 3.7% smoked tobacco.
According to the Ministry, nearly 37% children in India start smoking before the age of 10 years and 5,500 children start tobacco use daily. The findings of these studies highlight the need for targeted interventions among the youth in general and students in particular, given the marketing overdrive by the tobacco industry to promote its use among the youth.
The Ministry had recently issued letters to Chief Secretaries of all States, including Delhi, regarding developing mechanism to provide permission/ authorisation through municipal authorities by making a provision that retail shops authorised to sell tobacco products cannot sell any non-tobacco products. The Centre has appealed to the State municipal authorities to regulate sale of tobacco through authorised shops.
A road side kiosk next to the wall of the school
“Every day, 5,500 children get lured into tobacco use and a third of them die due of cancer, heart attack, asthma,’’ said Harit Chaturvedi, surgical oncology, Max Health Care, New Delhi.