State Level Workshop for Sensitization Of Stakeholders to Support Tobacco Vendor Licensing Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

National Centre for Human Settlements & Environment (NCHSE) with support from Consumer VOICE, New Delhi  organised a state level workshop on tobacco control issues (vendor licensing) in Bhopal, on January 21, 2019.

At the start of the programme Dr Pradip Nandi, Director General briefly spoke about the magnitude of tobacco consumption in India and Madhya Pradesh and their health impacts, especially on youth. He stressed that despite Government of India issuing advisory to the states for the enforcement of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, its implementation is poor.

The key findings of the survey which were done in Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior, were presented by Mr. Amarjeet Singh Panghal , Advisor Legal & Projects, Consumer VOICE:

  • The density of tobacco vendors is too high in both commercial and residential areas and there is no record available of tobacco vendors. There were 408 tobacco vendors in 6 wards/areas of 3 cities of Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal, Gwalior & Indore).
  • Tobacco vendors are violating COTPA.
  • Mandatory warning display board was not found at 62% point of sale.
  • Sale of loose cigarettes is rampant (97%), which frustrates the purpose of pictorial warning over the package.
  • 84 % tobacco vendors were found selling candy, chips etc. the products meant for and to attract children/youth to tobacco shops.
  • Tobacco products were displayed openly amounting to advertisements. Besides, tobacco advertisements were found at several point of sale.

The main recommendations of the study are as follows:

  • Need to strengthen enforcement of COTPA and JJ Act and to include public/CSOs in monitoring.
  • Municipal authorities should implement the MOHFW’s advisory dated 21st September 2017 and recent Union Ministry of Urban Development Advisory dated 28th September, 2018 to all states for licensing tobacco vendors through State Municipal Laws. Licensing can reduce vendor numbers and can prescribe where tobacco products are sold. Regulating tobacco vendors can aid COTPA enforcement, increase municipal revenue and save children from tobacco trap.
  • Need proper implementation of the order issued by the Department of Urban Development and Housing (MP) to all Municipal Bodies in the states to ensure COTPA compliance and licensing of tobacco vendors on 20 Sept. 2018.
  • Tobacco companies should be made accountable for violations at point of sale.
  • State need to develop comprehensive action plan to fight tobacco menace.

Shri Malika Nagar, Additional Commissioner, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) admitted that there is illegal selling of tobacco products especially in slum areas of Bhopal. She informed that BMC grants only limited licenses and is also taking several measures to restrict selling of tobacco products to the children/youth below the age of 18 years. Zonal Officers have been entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring of compliance of COTPA.

During the Panel Discussion on the needs and strategies for protecting young generation from the menace of tobacco, Dr. S.K. Saxena, Former CMHO & Civil Surgeon, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh stressed that there should be complete ban on production of tobacco as well strict enforcement of existing regulatory measures.

Shri Chandra Kant Naidu, Senior Journalist opined that ban of production or sale of tobacco product may not solve the growing problems related to tobacco consumption. He also stressed on the need for creating awareness among the youth and other stakeholders to make the restrictions on tobacco control meaningful.

During the discussion with the participants, it emerged that the advisory issued by the government of Madhya Pradesh for urban local bodies on 20th September 2018 is only for the urban areas. State Government has ignored the rural areas.

Around 60 participants took part in the workshop. Health experts, tobacco control officials, youth icons, officials from Municipal Corporation, student leaders, media persons, students, CSOs and including activists working on tobacco control, Consumer and Child right issues actively attended the workshop.

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