Removing tobacco advertisements from all shops in Kashmir division, India
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Voluntary Health Association of India, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A727
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Cigarette & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 Section 5 - Prohibits advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products. The Supreme Court of India further directed strict implementation banning any type of tobacco advertisement at Point of Sale (PoS). Kashmir was unique as all shops - Stationary, grocery, fruits & vegetable etc. sold tobacco in order to get illuminated attractive boards from the TI bearing shop and owner name in one corner. TI knowingly continued the violation of Sec. 5 and displayed their advertisements on these boards resulting in entire highways and roads of best locations lined with their ads.

Intervention or response:
Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) launched a campaign to make the Kashmir Division 'PoS Free'. Systematic mapping of stakeholders was done. The Police was identified as key department, and the highest level of officials were sensitized and commitment for action was established. As a result, Director General of Police issued strict orders for compliance of the Act following which capacity building was conducted of officials. Coordinated and collaborated raids with health, FDA & NGOs were conducted across the division and boards were removed. In order to ensure sustainable compliance mechanism, the details of the tobacco wholesellers/retailers was shared with the Deputy Inspector General Srinagar who then directed TI to remove all illegal boards else face legal action. This placed the onus on the tobacco sellers instead of the monitoring agency. Media was sensitized and covered the issue extensively, gaining public opinion.

Results and lessons learnt:
Kashmir Region was declared 'PoS Free' with the removal of over 400 advertisement boards. This would decrease brand recall and digress youngsters from initiating consumption.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
An active enforcement mechanism along with placing the onus on the tobacco industry to ensure compliance proved to be most effective and can be applied in other settings.

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