Communities Against Tobacco (CAT): An important initiative in tobacco control in India
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Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India
Sambandh Health Foundation, Gurugram, India
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Sanjay Seth   

Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr. E Borges Road, Parel, 400012, Mumbai, India
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A43
Voice of Tobacco Victims (VoTV) has been a hugely successful campaign for tobacco control advocacy in India. This campaign is a doctors led initiative which had a significant role in bringing many policy changes such as tax increases, gutkha ban, 85% pictorial warning, e-cigarette ban, etc. The same concept was extended to get other segments of society in a campaign called Communities Against Tobacco (CAT) where VoTV sensitized Journalists, Policymakers and senior government officials about the tobacco epidemic and how they could save lives by acting against tobacco.

To strengthen communities against tobacco.

Three groups i) Journalists ii) Government officials and iii) Police were sensitized by the VoTV doctors. Meetings were organized where tobacco-related patients, such as cancer survivors, shared the pain and misery caused by tobacco to them and their families with these groups. In Media: Editors, Sub-Editors, Bureau Chiefs; in Government: Ministers, Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), Members of Parliament (MPs) and in Police: the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above were sensitized through VoTV. It moved these communities to take action on tobacco control in their respective areas.

More than 67 Editors in Media, 159 Policymakers, 123 Senior Police Officers were sensitized. Media responded by covering the issue of tobacco through more than 4,000 articles in both online and print media over an 18 month period. Policymakers supported tobacco control and brought many policy changes in their respective states while MPs raised many anti-tobacco questions in Parliament. Police enforced the Indian Tobacco control laws effectively in more than 5 states of India.

Systematically sensitizing key groups about the perils of tobacco builds support from these groups to policy change and better enforcement. The stories of tobacco victims touches people’s hearts and the doctors lend credibility.

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