Tobacco advertisement, sales, product displays, and purchase incentives around kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools in Sri Lanka
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National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Supun Lahiru Prakash
Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A68
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide and over 20,000 people die due to tobacco-related illnesses annually in Sri Lanka. According to the global youth tobacco survey 2015 among youth 3.7% reported current tobacco use, 1.7% (males 3.2% and females 0.2% ) reported currently smoking tobacco, 1.5% reported currently smoking cigarettes, and 2.4% reported using smokeless tobacco in the last 30 days. In Sri Lanka, a number of programs have been initiated to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco smoking directly target the youth, but Tobacco Company uses many strategies to recruit youth as their customers.

This study aims to tackle the tobacco industry strategies targeting youths and use this data for policy measures; especially, to ban all the tobacco products selling within 500m from the school and other primary and secondary educational institutions.

Tiny Targets field agents were equipped with a mobile reporting form to document instances of tobacco companies advertising, selling, displaying, or incentivizing the sale of tobacco products within a 500m radius from 500 schools in 10 districts in Sri Lanka. Data gathered from the Kobo Toolbox was then mapped using MapBox, an open-source mapping platform for custom designed maps.

Field Agents recorded 1000 instances of 06 tobacco brands being sold, advertised, or displayed. Of these, brands with the most instances observed near schools and playgrounds were Gold Leaf (156 instances), Dunhill (93 instances), and John player (22 instances). All of these are owned by the multinational tobacco company, British American Tobacco Company.

Sri Lankan children are subjected to a wide array of tobacco industry strategies near their schools that encourage lifelong tobacco addiction. Several laws are in place to help curb the tobacco epidemic in Sri Lanka, but there are several gaps in the law that put Sri Lankan children at risk.

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