April 15, 2021

Health & Fitness

A need to license the Tobacco Vendors to enforce Anti-Tobacco laws and protect youth from getting addicted: Experts dwell on the issue

Kaumimarg.com | February 21, 2021 07:25 PM

A National Consultation on Tobacco Vendor Licensing (TVL) in India – One step near to the #Endgametobacco (TVL Current status, Challenges and Way Forward) was Organised by Strategic Institute of Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER), E-Resource Centre for Tobacco Control (E-RCTC) under Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER Chandigarh, and The Union South-East Asia (The Union). Dr Rakesh Gupta President SIPHER and Mrs Pooja Gupta Consultant Ministry of Health moderated the session attended by about 100 officials from WHO, PGIMeR Chandigarh, Dept of local Govt., Public Health Experts, researchers, academicians and civil society advocates. Mr Arun Verma Director Finance and operations, SIPHER was the host of the consultation and introduced the participants and gave a brief of the issue.
Prof. Sonu Goel, Director E-RCTC PGI said that, Tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death globally. Tobacco use is estimated to cause more than 1.3 million deaths in India every year. According to the GATS 2016-17, about 28.6% (266.8 million) of the adults in India, above 15 years of age (42.4% males and 14.2% females) are current tobacco users. Moreover, about 10.7% (99.5 million) of all adults (19.0% men and 2.0% women) presently smoke tobacco; while 21.4% (199.4 million) of all adults (29.6% men and 12.8% women) are current users of smokeless tobacco. Taking a note of the Tobacco epidemic in the country, the Government of India enacted the “Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), in 2003”.
Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, The Union South-East Asia deliberated that, regardless of the comprehensive provisions under the Act, significant violation of various provisions of COTPA including ‘TAPS ban’ is evident. The enforcement of these provisions is variable across the country from negligible to moderate to good in various states, districts and cities of the country. Despite its significance to enforce the law, sale of tobacco products at PoS is completely unregulated in India. Furthermore, Point-of-Sale of tobacco products in India remains completely unregulated. Owing to a huge number of the unauthorized point-of-sale, tobacco is largely being sold through informal vending channels like mobile vendors, leading to poor enforcement of existing laws and causing easy accessibility & availability of tobacco products to youth.
Presenting an overview of the issue, Dr Nidhi Sejpal Pouranik: Sr. Technical Advisor, The Union (SEA) office said that, one of the key policy interventions which could help in reducing the availability of tobacco products, as well as, enforcing the present laws is Tobacco Vendor Licensing (TVL) at Point of Sale (PoS). Licensing is predominantly a mechanism to be a valuable part of comprehensive tobacco control, as also stated in articles 15 & 16 of FCTC.
Eminent experts in the field Mr. Awadhesh Kumar: Executive Director, Balajee Sewa Sansthan, Uttarakhand, Mr. Deepak Mishra: Executive Director, SEEDS, Delhi, Dr. Nirmalya Mukherjee: Director of Manbhum Ananda Ashram Nityananda Trust (MANT), West Bengal, Mr. Prabhakara: Project Manager – TC & NCD, State Tobacco Control Cell, Karnataka, Mr Praveen Sinha NPO WHO India, Dr Rana J Singh: Deputy Regional Director, The Union, New Delhi, Dr Swasti Charan, Addl. DDG MOHFW and Mr Ranjit Singh Advocate Supreme Court took part in the panel discussion which was followed by drafting of recommendations.
Dr Gopal Chauhan working as an expert on Non-Communicable Diseases presented the Act enacted by Himachal Pradesh to license the Tobacco Vendors.
Guests of honour, Shri Rajiv Pandey, Astt. Director, Urban Development Directorate, Government of Uttarakhand, Dr Kamal Garg Municipal Commissioner, Mohali, Punjab, Shri Sonam W Bhutia, Commissioner Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Government of West Bengal presented their view points on Tobacco Vendor Licensing and ensured to ensure the implementation of existing law for regulating the tobacco vendors and also impress upon the authorities to replicate the Tobacco Vendors licensing as being done in HP.

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