Tobacco free public transport campaign by youth leaders: Case story of BEST buses in Mumbai
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Salaam Bombay Foundation, Mumbai, India
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Tshering Doma Bhutia   

Salaam Bombay Foundation, Mumbai, India
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A283
Section 5 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA, 2003) of India prohibits direct and indirect advertisements of tobacco products. Despite this, surrogate product advertisements were prevalent on BEST buses in Mumbai. BEST bus is a major public transport system having about 4600 buses running across various routes and has a workforce of around 45000 including bus drivers, conductors and office staff. Tobacco use among BEST employees was also found to be very high with 42% employees consuming tobacco.

In order to make BEST ‘tobacco free’ SBF trained student leaders of 350 schools in Mumbai initiated sensitization programme with BEST authorities and staff to make BEST buses and depots tobacco free.

To create awareness on harms of tobacco and tobacco control law, student leaders from 350 schools of Mumbai reach out to BEST bus depots around schools every year and conduct tobacco control sessions with BEST bus drivers, conductors and support staff making use of posters, banners, charts and information sheets. Through sessions, BEST staff is made aware about important facts about tobacco use in India, ill effects of tobacco on health, tobacco control law of India and prominent stakeholders involved

Through sensitization sessions, student leaders reached out to about 38000 BEST employees working at 19 bus depots across Mumbai. Due to advocacy by student leaders, tobacco cessation centers were established in BEST bus depots. About 5000 BEST quit tobacco after receiving cessation counseling. Surrogate tobacco product advertisements from 3600 buses were removed due to continuous advocacy efforts of student leaders with senior BEST authorities.

Tobacco industry finds ways to circumvent tobacco control laws prohibiting product advertisements. Surrogate advertising have been effectively used on public transport vehicles to advertise tobacco brands. Targeted advocacy with stakeholders has proved effective in curbing surrogate advertisements at public transport systems.

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