Tobacco companies targeting children: Study

A tobacco farmer waits for buyers at an auction platform. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A report released on Wednesday finds that tobacco companies in India are systematically targeting children as young as eight by selling tobacco products and placing tobacco advertisements near schools.

These tactics, happening all over the country, is a clear violation of Section 5 and 6 of Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act, it said.

To gather evidence regarding tobacco products being sold around educational institutions in violation of the law, two groups working in the area of tobacco control -- Consumer Voice and Voluntary Health Association of India -- undertook a study in 20 cities across six states in India.

Titled Tiny Targets, the study was conducted to determine the extent of tobacco products being marketed and sold around schools in India. A sample of 243 schools and 487 points of sale were closely surveyed during this study.

“Despite the prohibition on sales of tobacco products near educational institutions, numerous shops/vendors/points of sale sell and advertise tobacco products around schools,” found the study.

“Vendors display tobacco products in ways that are appealing to children and youth. Investigators documented that in 225 tobacco points of sale observed, 91% of displays were at 1 metre – child’s eye level, 54% had no visible health warning; and 90 per cent of displays were, beside candies, sweets and toys, items marketed to children,” noted the study.

This 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.

“The tobacco industry must be held accountable for their aggressive advertising efforts around our children’s schools,”Bhavna B Mukhopadhyay, Voluntary Health Association of India said. “Our schools are not safe so long as the tobacco industry continues to try and lure our children into buying their deadly products."

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 11:49:57 AM |

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