#OneTobaccoTax: social media campaign for unified tobacco taxes under Goods and Services Tax in India
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Vital Strategies, India
Vital Strategies, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A135
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Background and challenges to implementation:
India introduced a Goods and Services Tax (GST), effective 1 July 2017. There was ambiguity on how tobacco would be taxed - cigarettes were known to be in the highest tax bracket, there was possibility bidi would fall under the ´essential commodities tax rate of 5% and there was no information about smokeless tobacco. Vital Strategies and partners were involved in advocating for a unified tax in the highest tax bracket for all tobacco.

Intervention or response:
The campaign focussed on health harm messaging while calling for all tobacco products to be included in the highest bracket. Vital Strategies executed an intensive "#OneTobaccoTax" campaign from October 2016 - July 2017. The social media campaign ran in multiple phases in sync with mass media campaigns, earned media activities and offline advocacy. It comprised a website and social media messages and an online Thunderclap campaign. The objective was to influence key decision makers by (1) Calling for high, unified taxes (2) A focus on Bidi, calling for their inclusion in the highest bracket.

Results and lessons learnt:
Analytics suggested that #OneTobaccoTax, reached out to approximately 1.3 million people. 1,474 tweets targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, which were viewed 283,757 times. Two thunderclap campaigns acquired 747 supporters that were potentially seen by 7,12,239 people on Twitter and Facebook. Key opinion leaders tweeted using #OneTobaccoTax.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
This demonstrates how social media can be used to target messages to policy makers and key opinion leaders. People who agreed with our campaign lent their voice and shared our messages through their own social media, which showed support for higher tobacco taxes, and allowed supporters to target decision makers at national and sub-national level. The campaign's objective was attained as the GST council decided to tax all tobacco products, including bidi, under the highest tax bracket.

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