Licensing tobacco vendors in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India - challenges, opportunities and the way forward to implement the new legislation
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Directorate Health and Family Welfare, National Health Mission, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A599
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Himachal Pradesh having a population of 7 million is the first Smoke Free among all large 21 states in India. Since 2013 Himachal has achieved substantial progress in implementing all components of MPOWER. They are mainly demand reduction strategies. Tobacco control leaders are advocating for licensing retailers to restrict the easy availability of tobacco products. Many countries in the world have already made strict provisions for licensing tobacco vendors. Indian tobacco control laws prohibits sale of tobacco to minors and near educational institutes but its implementation remains a huge challenge.

Intervention or response:
Keeping in view the high smoking prevalence and the huge purchase of loose cigarette (>70%) in the state, a new law named Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Sales of Loose Cigarettes and Biddies and Regulation of Retail Business of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act has been enacted in 2016 . The new law provides strict provisions for banning sale of loose tobacco /single sticks of cigarettes and to licence tobacco vendors. The license to sell tobacco shall be given only to those who are adhering to all the existing regulations.

Results and lessons learnt:
Most of the tobacco vendors were selling tobacco with other confectionaries, grocery and daily need items. The new provisions provide licence to vendors either to sell tobacco only or other items. The fear of losing business is guiding the vendors for alternate business. Many have changed their business from tobacco and many are trying. There is a steep decline in sale of tobacco in the state in last one year.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Easy availability of tobacco products promotes its use and demand. Licensing tobacco vendors is a cost effective tool for reducing tobacco supplies. However the licensing process shall be strict and the numbers of vendors shall be restricted.

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