Parents, civil societies urge for strict implementation of rules to protect younger generation from tobacco

Panaji : To curb the usage of tobacco among children and younger generation, National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) and Delhi based Consumer VOICE along with parents have urged government to strictly implement tobacco control law and adopt vendor licensing in the state of Goa on the International Father’s Day.

Considering a father’s concern to keep their children away from tobacco, we aim to spread awareness about the health hazards of tobacco and sensitization of various stakeholders including, municipal officials, health official, social activists, parents, and media to support vendor licensing- which is an effective tool for tobacco control.

Dr Shekhar Salkar, Secretary, NOTE, Goa, said, ‘‘Tobacco use imposes enormous health and economic burden on the country. Tobacco kills people and destroys family with an additional economic burden of medical cost. Tobacco use in all forms (smoking or chewing) is associated with severe COVID-19 casualties. Hence it is necessary to safeguard children from tobacco and Vendor Licensing is a way to control the easy accessibility of tobacco.”

Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE, said,’ In our Tiny Targets study we found total of 885 point of sale were identified to be selling tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions that violating COTPA law. 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 younger generation to get addicted. Licensing system will surely curtail the tobacco consumption.’

According to Dr Salkar India has the second largest number (268 million) of tobacco users in the world and of these 13 lakhs die every year from tobacco related diseases. Nearly 27 per cent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco. Section 6 of The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA) bans sale of tobacco to and by minors and prohibits the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

Vendor licensing authorizes a business to engage in tangible retail sales of tobacco from a shop, sidewalk stand, a pushcart, a shop or a motor vehicle. These will be registered with municipalities and adhere to COTPA Regulations. Municipal bodies should ensure a licensing mechanism for vendors to restrict the sale and advertising of tobacco products and protect children and youth.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, vide letter dated September 21, 2017, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation on September 28, 2018, issued advisories to all Principal Secretary/Secretary Urban Development/Local Self Government) of all States/UTs/ Urban Local Bodies for ensuring a licensing mechanism for tobacco vendors with a restriction on the sale of candy, chips, etc.

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