World No Tobacco Day 2020 – Towards a tobacco free generation

World No Tobacco Day 2020 – Towards a tobacco free generation

World No Tobacco Day 2020 – Towards a tobacco free generation

Tobacco products kill more than 8 million people every year which effectively means the future generation. With each passing day, tobacco and related industry is becoming smarter by the day. To target adolescents, the tobacco industry is coming up with several tricks and tactics. Some of these are:

  • Sponsored events and parties
  • Product placement in entertainment media
  • Free product samples
  • Selling products at eye level for children
  • Product placement and advertising near schools
  • Over 15,000 flavours, most of which attract children and adolescents

But in this World No Tobacco Day, WHO is planning to debunk myths and expose devious tactics employed by these industries by launching counter-marketing campaign. This year the theme of World No Tobacco Day 2020 campaign is “protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”, that aims to sensitize and make the youth aware about the harmful effects of tobacco use and expose the tactics employed by the industry to attract the youth. Through this campaign, WHO encourages everyone to gain knowledge, spread awareness and create a ‘tobacco-free generation’.

Vendor Licensing in India

Tobacco consumption among the younger generation has its own set of problems. As per WHO, nearly 37% children in India initiate smoking before the age of 10 and 14.6% of 13-15 year old students in India use tobacco. If one goes deeper to understand the reason for increased smoking among children, it is easy availability of tobacco and tobacco products like cigarettes and bidis.

One of the effective measures of stopping school children and minors from falling prey to tobacco smoking is implementation of vendor licensing through Cigarettes and other Tobacco products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA). COTPA, specifically prohibits smoking in all public places, prohibition of direct and indirect advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of cigarettes and other tobacco products, prohibition of sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors and within 100 yards of any educational institution, and display of health warning, including pictorial warning on ill effects of tobacco use on the packages of all tobacco products.

The states and cities in India which have issued vendor licensing orders using the power under their respective Municipal laws and regulations include Himachal Pradesh, Patna (Bihar), Howrah (West Bengal) Rajasthan and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand ) and recently Madhya Pradesh, and Assam

Big Tobacco Tiny Targets

Consumer VOICE and Voluntary Health Association of India conducted a Big Tobacco Tiny Targets study to determine the extent of tobacco products being marketed and sold around schools in India. A total sample of 243 schools and 487 points of sale were closely surveyed during this study in these 20 cities. The objective of this survey was to ascertain whether the ban on selling tobacco products near educational institutions as per the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) is being enforced in cities across the country or not.

Also Read: Cigarette and tobacco shops can no longer sell chips and candies

As per Mr.Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE “Vendors sell cigarettes and bidis via single sticks, making these products cheap and accessible to children and youth. Selling of such products outside of educational institutes attracts the youth to get addicted. This move will surely curtail the tobacco consumption, he added.

City Level Workshop for Sensitization Of Stakeholders to Support Tobacco Vendor Licensing Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh

City Level Workshop for Sensitization Of Stakeholders to Support Tobacco Vendor Licensing Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh

The Consumers Guidance Society, Vijayawada and Consumer Awareness Society, Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh in collaboration and support of VOICE, organized a workshop on “Tobacco Control in Youth Hostel, Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh on February 8, 2019. The main objective of the workshop was to sensitization of stakeholders on tobacco control measures in Andhra Pradesh through vendor licensing.

The workshop was presided over by Sri. P. Raja Reddy, President, District Federation .of Consumer Organisations. A renowned oncologist Dr. Surya Sen, Sri Prabhakara Rao, Assistant Controller, Food Safety, Ch. Hari Kishan, Programe Executive, Consumers Guidance Society, Vijayawada were also part of the workshop.

Raja Reddy, President, Chittor District Federation of Consumer Organisation highlighted the findings of Tobacco Survey Consumption in Andhra ·Pradesh and the key findings of the survey on Tobacco Vendors in Tirupathi,  Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.

Key Findings of survey:

  • Tobacco vendors are violating COTPA.
  • Mandatory warning display board was not found in 82 % point of sale.
  • Tobacco products are displayed openly in 61% cases.
  • Sale of loose cigarettes is rampant 98%, which frustrate purpose of pictorial warning at package.
  • 89 % Tobacco vendors were found Selling candy, chips etc. the products meant for and to attract children/youth to tobacco shops.

He stated that COTPA was ineffectively enforced in the State,  resulting in easy accessibility of tobacco products within the reach of children and other  vulnerable people. Hence, he emphasized that regulatory mechanism over the sale of Tobacco Products should be revisited and strengthened. As a part of this, compulsory vendor license should be introduced for the sale of tobacco and other allied products to prevent children from falling prey to these hazardous products. Therefore, he opined an effective strategy should be designed and pursued for effective implementation of compulsory vendor license for sale of tobacco products.

Dr. Surya Sen, a renowned oncologist has stated that 70 percent of his patients were tobacco smokers and the singular reason for their pathetic health condition involving deceases like oral cancer, lung cancer, intestinal cancer and other deceases was primarily on account of consumption of Tobacco and other allied products. He said tobacco consumers not only injure their own health but also the health and safety of their own family members by releasing smoke in the living spaces of their family. He strongly advocated that tobacco farmers should be motivated to cultivate alternative crops to address the root of the problem.

Prabhakar Rao, Assistant IT Food Controller, Food Safety, said that though use of tobacco in food is totally banned but in reality tobacco is mixed in Pan Masala, Khaini and other food products by mislabeling and misbranding products and which needs to be curbed effectively . He further stated that lacunae in the existing laws are being taken as an advantage by the Tobacco manufacturers to evade regulatory mechanism and indulge in surrogate advertisements.

He opined that compulsory tobacco vending license is definitely a good move to save children and youngsters from the influence of tobacco products and therefore, it should be properly designed and introduced. Ch. Hari Kishan,  Programme  executive, GCGS has  highlighted the ominous findings of on-line survey on Tobacco trade and vendors  and steps that are required to address the problem. The participants had interacted with resource persons by raising their queries and concerns. Around 80 participants representing Consumer Organisations, Civil Society, media, doctors, academia, youth clubs etc., participated in the workshop. Media supported the event and provided mass coverage.

Media Coverage

Media Coverage Tirupati,AP