Balparishad - a health assembly of young leaders advocating for tobacco control around schools and in the communities
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Salaam Bombay Foundation, Tobacco Control & Advocacy, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A60
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Tobacco use among school children is a serious problem in India. Lack of proper guidance, urge to imitate elders, peer pressure, misconceptions, availability of variety of tobacco products near schools and attractive advertisements of tobacco products attract the children to tobacco. Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF), under its leadership program made an effort to create a team of young advocates and equipped the team with self confidence, refusal skills and advocacy concepts to work towards making their schools and communities tobacco free.

Intervention or response:
The process for students' health assembly formation begins with an intensive training of students on harmful effects of tobacco, tobacco control law and tobacco free schools. A class level Balpanchayat is created involving eight students from each class. Then a school Balpanchayat is formed involving eight students selected from the class level Balpanchayats. The leaders of school Balpanchayats are further trained in Balparishad (Student's Health Assembly) to initiate and lead the advocacy activities to make their schools and communities tobacco free. The members of Balparishad sensitize the community, coordinate with stakeholders from all the concerned authorities and present their demands before concerned authorities.

Results and lessons learnt:
Due to advocacy efforts of students' health assembly 153 shops in Mumbai stopped selling tobacco products. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) issued a circular to ban surrogate tobacco advertising in Ganeshotsav pandals. MCGM included COTPA 2003 in Shops and Establishments Act and made compliance of its section 6 which prohibits sale of tobacco products to minors and within 100 yards of educational institutions. Tobacco advertisements were removed from 4,680 BEST public transport buses.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
The results of intervention show that training and capacity building of youth is helpful in creating awareness on harms of tobacco products and motivating them to take steps to sensitize stakeholders to act against violations in sale and promotion of tobacco products.

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