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88% people in India strongly favour strengthening the tobacco control law in India…

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National Survey finds overwhelming public support for proposed reforms under the COTPA Amendment Bill 2020

BENGALURU, FEBRUARY 11, 2021: A survey conducted amongst adults in 10 states found that over 80% of Indians believe cigarettes, bidis, smokeless tobacco use is a very serious problem and 88% strongly support strengthening of the current tobacco control law to address this menace. 72% believe second-hand smoke is a serious health hazardSupport for banning smoking in all public places, eliminating special smoking areas in airports, hotels, and restaurants, banning sale of loose cigarettes & bidis and advertising of tobacco products at selling points is overwhelming.

These are the findings of a detailed phone survey conducted by Consumer VOICE in 10 states covering a sample pool of 1476 adults (18+). Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and random digit dial (RDD) selection methodology was used to conduct these in- depth interviews in 10 languages (Kannada, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi) across the country.

Main findings of the survey:

  1. Tobacco use is seen as a serious problem by most Indians: Various forms of tobacco use is seen as very serious problems by most respondents. 82% of the respondents believe smokeless tobacco use is a profoundly serious problem; 80% say so about smoking cigarettes and 77% say bidis use is a very serious problem.
  • Second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard:  According to 72% respondents and seven in 10 Indians say that it bothers them to be exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Indians strongly favour strengthening the tobacco control law: Support for strengthening the current tobacco control law is overwhelming. More than nine in ten Indians are in favour of this with 88% favouring it strongly. Support is high across all demographic and geographic breaks such as age and gender. Even tobacco users support the idea.

It is very encouraging to see the overwhelming support from people for strengthening the current tobacco control law. Government of India has started the amendment process of tobacco control law COTPA 2003 which is an important step towards improving public health. It is looking to strengthen the provisions for prohibiting smoking in public places and a ban on point-of-sale advertising displays besides ban on sale of loose cigarettes and have higher penalties. said Mr. Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE.

“The survey by Consumer Voice has shown more than 80% support by the public to strengthen the tobacco control laws. Considering the massive response from the public it is high time the government strengthens the law by prohibiting smoking in all public places, including banning smoking areas in restaurants, pubs, hotels and airports. Further increasing penalty for violation of tobacco control laws (COTPA) & strict implementation of the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes & bidis by the government is the need of the hour”, said Dr Thriveni, a Public Health Specialist and Project Leader of Smoke-Free Bengaluru.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature deaths globally and in India more than 10 Lakhs people are losing life every year due to tobacco related diseases. India has over 26 Crore tobacco users, cutting across all demographics and genders. The annual economic costs from all tobacco products were estimated at Rs.177,341 crores in 2017-18 amounting to 1% of India’s GDP. Tobacco use in all forms, whether smoking or chewing, is significantly also associated with severe COVID-19 casualties also as per advisories issued by Ministry of Health and ICMR.

Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) is a non-government organisation based in New Delhi working on various social and health issues including tobacco control across India.

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