NEW DELHI, MAY 30, 2022
As tobacco companies menacingly lure youth and children to their products through advertisements and entertainment ploys, Health experts and celebrities have urged the government to put an immediate ban on advertisement of tobacco products.
On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, they also asked the Centre to ensure that tobacco control law and policies are made stronger and implemented effectively.
Health expert Chandrakant Lahariya pointed out that children and non-tobacco users too visit the POS and are at risk of getting addicted. Giving relaxation on POS is like inviting a tobacco pandemic, he warned.
Lahariya also brought to the notice of the Government about the tobacco threat on the people’s health in the wake of Covid-19. He cited various studies showing how tobacco users had become vulnerable to the deadly infection during the pandemic.
“Every life is precious and we are losing 1.3 million Indians every year to tobacco-related diseases. Apart from cancer, tobacco is also a major cause of a wide range of chronic and life-threatening conditions like lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and strokes to name a few,” he enlisted the threats due to tobacco consumption, while backing the demand to ban designated smoking areas in the airports, hotels and restaurants as they were a health risk to non-smokers.
Expressing grave concern over rampant violation of tobacco control laws, international wrestler and actor Sangram Singh said: “There has been alarming evidence of widespread advertising and promotional activities that could influence children to start to smoke and potentially develop a habit that could kill them.”
Singh said that despite the ban on tobacco advertisements, the industry is spending a hefty budget on promotion of tobacco items by adopting various marketing tactics. “They eye on youth as their probable client as they very well know that in a tobacco-addicted youth they will have a life-time consumer. I would request the Government that such advertisements should be immediately prohibited,” he said at an event held here on Monday on the eve of ‘World No Tobacco Day’.
Tobacco causes 6 million deaths globally and India accounts for one-sixth of the world’s tobacco- related deaths; 37.9 per cent of children begin tobacco use by the age of 10 years in India. This is despite the fact that in India tobacco Control Law (COTPA) prohibits sale of tobacco in and around educational institutions within a distance of 100 yards.
Various studies have shown the availability of tobacco at the doorstep of the institution even after 11 years of its implementation of the legislation. COTPA has also prohibited tobacco related advertisements but the players in the sector take advantage of the gaps in the legislation by misusing provisions of POS advertisements and product displays. Every day, around 5000 youth fall prey to tobacco traps, as per various reports.
Former Director (Content) with the Central Government’s MyGov initiative, Akhilesh Mishra said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown seriousness to the threat posed by the tobacco consumption. “Because of his initiative, the Government has taken proactive steps to ban the e-cigarettes which are equally addictive.
“Now, the Government is in the midst of tightening the COTPA legislation by making adequate amendments to check the tobacco menace, ” he informed.
Communication expert Neelkanth Bakshi also touched upon various anti-tobacco measures taken by the Centre and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been very particular about the health of people, particularly youth.
“He was the one who made Yoga a mass movement across the world. I am sure that he’s too aware of the ill-effects of tobacco on the people. The Government will certainly sooner or later come out with laws to curb the menace caused by these cancer causing products,” said Bakshi.
“Tobacco companies that make products like cigarettes and gutkha are specifically targeting teenagers and kids. They prominently display their advertisements near school and colleges so that they are visible to the impressionable minds. These should be completely banned”, asserted Dr. Uma Kumar, HOD of Rheumatology. She stressed that it is very important to save our youth.
“Similarly, due to passive smoking, small children and women’s health are at risk. Doing away with DSA, can be a game changer in the direction of health of the vulnerable population.”
She further said that tobacco products cause serious ailments like cancer, claiming almost 13 lakh lives in the country. “For healthy India, it is important that there should be no concept of DSAs,” she noted.