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Taking control of tobacco in India

27 Oct 2018

In India, both research and action are happening in a drive to understand and control tobacco use.

A study presented during a tobacco control session, has analysed the effectiveness of the incremental increase in taxation on smoked tobacco products against a reduction of smoking prevalence, showing a projected reduction of 30 percent by 2025 of smoking attributable deaths and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs, the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability).

It found increasing taxes is one of the effective measures to reduce the prevalence of cigarettes and bidi in India.

However, increasing the taxation on smoked tobacco products by zero, 25 or 50 percent would have limited impact on the number of deaths among smokers and DALYs lost due to smoking. Only a 100 percent increase would appear to have the required impact on smoking prevalence and associated effects.

A case study was also presented within the session about the issue of legislation enforcement on banning tobacco advertisement in shops. However, Mukesh Kumar Sinha, MP Voluntary Health Association in India, said the government were determined not to give up.

Mukesh has been part of a project to improve adherence by shopkeepers to the tobacco advertising ban in several cities. He said: “Awareness in the community, monitoring and enforcement should go together at the same time,” to play a vital role in keeping a city free from tobacco advertisements.

Therefore, alongside the regular monitoring undertaken, they encouraged shopkeepers to sign consent forms to keep shopfronts free from promotional hoardings and not sell cigarettes to people under the age of 18.

Roughly 1,200 hoardings were removed, and 500 shopkeepers signed the declaration. In three years, 98 percent of the shopkeepers have not put advertising back up.

A successful outcome of the project has been that adults who noticed advertisement of smokeless tobacco products at point of sale have decreased from 11.4 percent and 1.3 percent.

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