GUWAHATI: Consumer VOICE, Delhi and Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam organised a state level workshop on tobacco control at Hotel Ambarish Grand Residency, Paltan Bazar, Guwahati, today. The purpose of the event was sensitization of stakeholder on tobacco control measures, especially to protect young generation from tobacco menace. Amarjeet Singh Panghal, Adviser Legal & Projects, Consumer VOICE shared key findings of a recent study conducted about tobacco vendors in three cities in the state of Assam. “The density of tobacco vendors is too high in both commercial and residential areas and there is no record available of tobacco vendors. We found 324 tobacco vendors in three cities of Assam. Tobacco vendors are violating COTPA, 2003. Mandatory warning display board was not found at 67% tobacco point of sale. Tobacco products are displayed openly, amounting to advertisements at every point of sale. Tobacco advertisements were found at 50% point of sale. Sale of loose cigarettes is rampant (around 33 %), which frustrate the purpose of pictorial warning at the package. 87 % tobacco vendors were found selling candy, chips etc. the products meant for and to attract children to tobacco shops” he said. He suggested developing a mechanism of tobacco vendor licensing in Assam by Municipalities to control tobacco consumption. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, via letter dated Sept 21, 2017 and Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation on Sept 28, 2018 issued advisories to all Principal Secretary, Secretary Urban Development, Local Self Government of all States/UTs/ Urban Local Bodies for ensuring licensing mechanism for tobacco vendors with restriction on sale of candy, chips etc.
Speaking on the occasion, Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam said that Assam has shown a significant rise of 9% in overall tobacco consumption from 39.3% during the last survey in 2009-10 to 48.2% compared to 6 % decline in national average as per Global Adult Tobacco Survey report 2016-17. There was a panel discussion on the needs and strategies for protecting young generation from the menace of tobacco where Dr. Srabana Misra Bhagabaty, Associated Professor cum In-Charge Department of Preventive Oncology.
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