Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum along with Consumer VOICE, New Delhi organised workshops for stakeholders in Assam to disseminate the “Big Tobacco-Tiny Targets” survey report. The workshops were held in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Jorhat where the survey was conducted. A report which reveals how tobacco companies are systematically targeting children as young as eight years old in the state of Assam by selling tobacco products and placing tobacco advertisements near schools premises.
- To gather additional evidence regarding tobacco products being sold around educational institutions
- To assess COTPA compliance near educational institutions
- To expose Tobacco Industry tactics which target children
Assam State -Key Study findings
- Nearly half of the vendors around schools sell tobacco products. (Investigators observed 34 points of sale selling tobacco products out of the 48 surveyed around schools. Street and Mobile vendors were the most common form of vendors at 71% of the 34 tobacco points of sale observed.)
- Multinational tobacco companies sell tobacco products around schools. (Investigators documented that of the 34 tobacco points of sale observed, 82% carried ITC brands and 53% carried Phillip Morris.
- Vendors advertise tobacco products around schools.(Investigators observed tobacco advertising at 59% of the 34 tobacco points of sale observed.)
- Vendors sell cigarettes and bidis via single sticks, making these products cheap and accessible to children and youth. (Investigators observed single stick sales in 82% of the 34 tobacco points of sale observed).
- Vendors display tobacco products in ways that are appealing to children and youth. (Investigators documented that, of the 34 tobacco points of sale observed, 53% of displays were at 1 meter – a child’s eye level; 56% of the points of sale had no visible health warning; and 38% of displays were beside candy, sweets and toys – items marketed to children.)
The workshops were attended by around 250 various stakeholders including representatives from Municipal Corporation, Mayor, State Tobacco Control Cell, representative from Police Department, health experts, tobacco control officials, youth icons, officials from Municipal Corporation, students leaders, media, students, Resident Welfare Associations, CSOs and activists working on tobacco control, Consumer and Child right issues.
In the workshop, the speakers Dr Arundhuti Deka, State Nodal Officer, State Tobacco Control Cell, Govt. of Assam speaking on the “Role of Restricting tobacco sales to young people: Policy Advisory on Vendor Licensing.” Pratul Phukan, Rtd. DIG, Assam Police; Dr. Srabana Misra Bhagabaty, Associated Professor cum In-Charge Department of Preventive Oncology, Dr. B. BOROOAH CANCER INSTITUTE; Ravi Shankar Ravi, Editor, Dainik Purvoday, Iqbal Ahmed, Senior Reporter, The Sentinel; Prakash Sarmah; Dwijendra Nath Borthakur, Retd. Principal of Sonaram H.S School, Guwahati; and Siddheswar Das, Senior Team Member, Child line. All the speakers emphasized on urgent action from the Government agencies to stop tobacco companies from targeting children from aggressive advertising & selling of tobacco products around schools and stricter enforcement of COTPA rules prohibiting the selling and advertising of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.
This new report is not the first time the tobacco industry has been found targeting children, nor is it unique to India. However, the data is alarming because it documents a very systematic and widespread pattern of activity by tobacco companies to get young people addicted to tobacco.
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