The Consumers Guidance Society, Vijayawada and Consumer Awareness Society, Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh in collaboration and support of VOICE, organized a workshop on "Tobacco Control in Youth Hostel, Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh on February 8, 2019. The main objective of the workshop was to sensitization of stakeholders on tobacco control measures in Andhra Pradesh through vendor licensing.
The workshop was presided over by Sri. P. Raja Reddy, President, District Federation .of Consumer Organisations. A renowned oncologist Dr. Surya Sen, Sri Prabhakara Rao, Assistant Controller, Food Safety, Ch. Hari Kishan, Programe Executive, Consumers Guidance Society, Vijayawada were also part of the workshop.
Raja Reddy, President, Chittor District Federation of Consumer Organisation highlighted the findings of Tobacco Survey Consumption in Andhra ·Pradesh and the key findings of the survey on Tobacco Vendors in Tirupathi, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.
Key Findings of survey:
- Tobacco vendors are violating COTPA.
- Mandatory warning display board was not found in 82 % point of sale.
- Tobacco products are displayed openly in 61% cases.
- Sale of loose cigarettes is rampant 98%, which frustrate purpose of pictorial warning at package.
- 89 % Tobacco vendors were found Selling candy, chips etc. the products meant for and to attract children/youth to tobacco shops.
He stated that COTPA was ineffectively enforced in the State, resulting in easy accessibility of tobacco products within the reach of children and other vulnerable people. Hence, he emphasized that regulatory mechanism over the sale of Tobacco Products should be revisited and strengthened. As a part of this, compulsory vendor license should be introduced for the sale of tobacco and other allied products to prevent children from falling prey to these hazardous products. Therefore, he opined an effective strategy should be designed and pursued for effective implementation of compulsory vendor license for sale of tobacco products.
Dr. Surya Sen, a renowned oncologist has stated that 70 percent of his patients were tobacco smokers and the singular reason for their pathetic health condition involving deceases like oral cancer, lung cancer, intestinal cancer and other deceases was primarily on account of consumption of Tobacco and other allied products. He said tobacco consumers not only injure their own health but also the health and safety of their own family members by releasing smoke in the living spaces of their family. He strongly advocated that tobacco farmers should be motivated to cultivate alternative crops to address the root of the problem.
Prabhakar Rao, Assistant IT Food Controller, Food Safety, said that though use of tobacco in food is totally banned but in reality tobacco is mixed in Pan Masala, Khaini and other food products by mislabeling and misbranding products and which needs to be curbed effectively . He further stated that lacunae in the existing laws are being taken as an advantage by the Tobacco manufacturers to evade regulatory mechanism and indulge in surrogate advertisements.
He opined that compulsory tobacco vending license is definitely a good move to save children and youngsters from the influence of tobacco products and therefore, it should be properly designed and introduced. Ch. Hari Kishan, Programme executive, GCGS has highlighted the ominous findings of on-line survey on Tobacco trade and vendors and steps that are required to address the problem. The participants had interacted with resource persons by raising their queries and concerns. Around 80 participants representing Consumer Organisations, Civil Society, media, doctors, academia, youth clubs etc., participated in the workshop. Media supported the event and provided mass coverage.