Advocacy campaign to achieve 100% tobacco-free (government) schools in Maharashtra state in India
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Salaam Mumbai Foundation, Mumbai, India
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Rajashree Kadam   

Salaam Mumbai Foundation, Nirmal Building, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Maharashtra, Mumbai 400021, India
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A35
Each year, tobacco kills more than one million people in India. About 29% of those 15 years or older and 15% of those between 13 to 15 years in the country use tobacco. Tobacco-free schools (TFS) guarantee every child a tobacco-free environment. Indian government. through its Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), prohibits the use and sale of tobacco in and around schools. However, implementing TFS has been challenging. Salaam Mumbai Foundation conducted an advocacy campaign with government actors, to achieve TFS in government schools in Maharashtra state, India.

To share lessons from an advocacy campaign to make all government schools in Maharashtra tobacco-free.

Consultative meetings, interviews with key informants and stakeholders from government and civil society were conducted to design the advocacy campaign primarily targeted to government staff working at the state, district and sub-district-level. Advocacy activities included multiple meetings, one-to-one briefings with decision-makers, presentations, workshops, policy briefs, media articles, student rallies, events and community activities, and published papers.

At the state level, the departments of Education and Sports, and Tribal Welfare passed circulars mandating implementation of tobacco-free school policy in all government education institutions and tribal schools respectively; thus pushing school stakeholders to take action. Additionally, State Council of Education and E-research Training, Maharashtra included tobacco-related chapters in school textbooks from grades five to ten. At the district level, advocacy with district collectors resulted in 5830 tobacco-free schools in four districts; an anti-tobacco pledge taken by 450000 students and villagers in Yavatmal district was entered in the Limca book of records.

Continued advocacy with government actors and adding advocacy efforts at the local community leaders and influencers, supplemented with teacher interventions, can address existing challenges and accelerate the adoption and sustainability of TFS.

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