Vendors and tobacco firms are selling ciggerattes and other tobacco products and advertising them near schools, targeting children as young as eight years old, according to a study conducted in 20 cities across the States.
Titled ‘Tiny Targets’, the study which was released here on Tuesday at an event said nearly half of the vendors surveyed around 243 schools were found selling tobacco products while tobacco advertisings at 34 per cent of the 225 tobacco points of sale were observed.
During the study which was conducted in cities including Hyderabad, Indore, Morbi, Jorhat song others to determine the extent of tobacco products being marketed and sold around educational institutions, the investigators found that single sticks sales was as high as 90.9 per cent of the 225 points of sale.
“Vendors displayed tobacco products in the ways that they are appealing to children and youth. In other words, of the 225 tobacco points of sale observed, 91 per cent of displays were at 1 meter-a child’s eye level, 54 per cent of the points of sale had no visible health warnings while 90 per cent of displays were besides candy, sweets and toys-items marketed to children, said the study jointly conducted by Consumer Voice and Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI).
Calling the study results as ‘alarming’, Rajya Sabha member, MV Rajeev Gowda “young people are vulnerable to the temptations of tobacco and alcohol even before they are able to make informed and mature decisions. For some these become a gateway to drugs. Hence, it’s important to protect our kids from these harmful products.” Various reports say that nearly 37 per cent children in India initiate smoking before the age of ten while 5,500 children begin tobacco use and become addicted, leaving them exposed to various tobacco related diseases.
Bhavna B Mukhopadhyaya from VHAI said, “It is not that the first time the tobacco industry has been found targeting children and neither it is unique to India. However, the data is alarming because it documents a very systematic and widespread pattern of activity by tobacco companies to get young people addicted to tobacco.”
Asim Sanyal from Consumer Voice added: “We have seen the industry use this tactics time and again which is endangering the lives of our young generation.”
He said it was high time that the Union Health Ministry’s advisory letter observing that “the shops permitted to sell tobacco products cannot sell non-tobacco products such as toffees, candies, chips, biscuits, soft drinks, among others so that children do not get attracted to these vends,” is implemented in right earnest.