Over 80 per cent of Indians believe that use of cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco is a very serious problem and 88 per cent strongly support the strengthening of the current tobacco control law to address this menace, while 72 per cent believe second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard, stated a survey.
A survey conducted by Consumer VOICE amongst adults in 10 states found overwhelming support for banning smoking in all public places, eliminating special smoking areas in airports, hotels, and restaurants, banning the sale of loose cigarettes and bidis and advertising of tobacco products at selling points.
The detailed phone survey covered a sample pool of 1,476 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 (Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) across the country.
As per the main findings of the survey, tobacco use is seen as a serious problem by most Indians. Various forms of tobacco use is seen as a very serious problem by most respondents. Around 82 per cent of the respondents believe smokeless tobacco use is a profoundly serious problem; 80 per cent say so about smoking cigarettes and 77 per cent say bidis use is a very serious problem.
Another finding said second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard. According to 72 per cent of respondents and seven in 10 Indians say that it bothers them to be exposed to second-hand smoke.
According to another finding, Indians strongly favour strengthening the tobacco control law. Support for strengthening the current tobacco control law is overwhelming. More than nine in 10 Indians are in favour of this with 88 per cent favouring it strongly. Support is high across all demographic and geographic breaks such as age and gender. Even tobacco users support the idea.
Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE said, “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 a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes and have higher penalties.”
“Prohibiting smoking in most public places, including abolishing smoking areas in restaurants, hotels and airports, chewing tobacco advertisement bans and a ban on point of sale advertising displays are strongly favoured by 80 per cent or more. Increasing fines for violation of the anti-tobacco law and banning the sale of individual cigarettes and bidi also receive broad support,” stated Dr Shekhar Salkar, Oncologist and Secretary, National organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), Goa.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature deaths globally and in India, more than 10 lakhs people are losing lives 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 per cent 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 the Ministry of Health and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (ANI)