Big Tobacco's Tiny Targets in India

Tobacco companies are using  vendors and  targeting  children around schools  through dirty tactics such as point of sale advertising, distribution of free samples (tobacco products), discounted products etc.

Governments must enact and enforce policies mandated by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect kids from the aggressive marketing tactics of tobacco companies. Share now to stop Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, and ITC from marketing to kids in India!

Referring to youth as “replacement smokers”, the world’s largest tobacco companies are targeting kids with special advertising and promotions, tobacco products designed to appeal to youth, and product placement near primary and secondary schools across the globe.

That’s because kids are more susceptible to cigarette advertising and marketing than adults. The vast majority of all smokers begin their addictive habit before they reach age 18, and almost nobody tries smoking for the first time after 18. In other words, if large numbers of kids did not try smoking and go on to become regular users, the tobacco companies eventually would not have enough adult customers to make staying in business worthwhile.

In India, investigations into tobacco marketing and product placement near children’s schools found common Big Tobacco tactics to lure kids including: free samples (of tobacco products), discounted tobacco products, displaying tobacco products in appealing ways, and selling single cigarette sticks.

Recommendations

  • The government must improve enforcement of COTPA. COTPA prohibits tobacco sales around schools and, more generally, most forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Tobacco sales are pervasive and occur in supermarkets, pan-shops, kiosks, and on the street, among other places, with no need for vendors to obtain permission to sell tobacco products – except in a few municipalities.
  • Municipal authorities should implement the MOHFW’s 21st September 2017 advisory by licensing tobacco vendors. Licensing can reduce vendor numbers and can prescribe where tobacco products are sold. Regulating tobacco vendors can aid COTPA enforcement.
  • COTPA compliance should be a condition of a vendor license where violations of COTPA constitute a violation of the license itself.
  • Municipalities should consider licensing only exclusive tobacco shops where only tobacco products can be sold. This will reduce exposure to tobacco products by children and non-users who will not frequent such stores.
  • Municipalities further can enforce state bans on the sale of single sticks of tobacco through vendor licensing with violations of such bans constituting a violation of the license itself.
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