Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tobacco packets to devote 85 per cent space to warnings

India has made it mandatory for tobacco companies to devote 85 per cent space on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products to warnings against the ill effects of tobacco consumption.

"We have issued a notification to ensure that in the next few months cigarette manufacturers have 85 per cent space on packets covered with either pictorial warnings or messages warning against the perils of tobacco use," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced in New Delhi at a function on the occasion of global hand washing day.

The guidelines would come into effect from April 1, 2015. 

As of now, tobacco companies are required to devote only 40 per cent of the space on packets to pictorial warnings against tobacco use.

Mr Harsh Vardhan said, "In my career as a doctor, I have seen smokers and tobacco users die in front of me. We should do whatever we can to make people aware."

With this, India will join Thailand where 85 percent of space on packs of cigarette and other tobacco products is covered with warnings. 

India will now rank first in the list of 198 countries that warn smokers about the hazards of smoking through graphic pictures on cigarette packets.

In Australia, it is 82.5 per cent and in Uruguay, it 80 per cent. 

India's ranking had dropped down to 136 out of 198 among countries, which include pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets.

According to the notification issued: "The specified health warning shall cover at least 85 per cent of the principal display area of the package, of which 60 percent shall cover pictorial health warning and 25 percent shall cover textual health warning and shall be positioned on the top edge of the package".

For packages containing smoking forms of tobacco, the pictorial warnings would be of throat cancer, and for chewable tobacco products, they would be of mouth cancer.

The notification said the health warnings shall be expressed in English or any Indian language. 

"The specified health warning on tobacco product packages shall be rotated every 24 months from the date of commencement of these rules or before the period of rotation as may be specified by the central government notification," it said.

"The size of all components of the specified health warning shall be increased proportionally according to increase in package size to ensure that the specified health warning covers 85 percent of the principal display area".

Source: NDTV
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

TFK stall at Clean Campus Trivandrum Regional Meet

TFK's stall set up at the venue of Trivandrum Regional Meet of Clean Campus, Safe Campus on 10 October 2014 evinced enthusiastic participation of students and bureaucrats alike.

Visitors thronged our stall and eagerly wrote their comments in the 'Have Your Say' wall. 

Posters were specially designed wherein key stakeholders could write their views on implementing the ban on sale of tobacco products around schools.

Under Section 6 (b) of Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003, sale of tobacco products is prohibited in an area within a radius of 100 yards of an educational institution. 




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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tobacco control: Health custodians congratulate Kerala Police

Senior custodians of health across the state have heaped praises on Kerala Police for their role in preventive health by tightening enforcement of the tobacco control law COTPA, 2003 that is aimed at protecting public from the many harms of tobacco use. COTPA violations check by Kerala Police for the May-July 2014 quarter has gone up by 64 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Dr. Ramdas Pisharody, Principal, Trivandrum Medical College, congratulating the Trivandrum City Police for making the college area smoke-free said,  “This concerted effort by the police force to safeguard the lives of thousands who visit the hospital every day by enforcing COTPA is very laudable. Owing to high literacy levels and penetration of mass media in Kerala, awareness that smoking and tobacco use is harmful to health is very high among our people. Yet, people continue to smoke away causing harm not only to their health but also of others. Tough enforcement of laws together with counselling by doctors is the need of the hour to arrest the preventable damage to public health from tobacco use.”

The Trivandrum City Police, as a part of the collective exercise led by the District Administration to make the district model COTPA compliant, recently declared the Medical College police circle smoke free.

Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts are also in the fray to become model COTPA compliant. Multi-stakeholder efforts in these two districts are led by the District Collectors with active support from the police and other enforcement agencies.  

According to Dr. VP Gangadharan, pioneer medical oncologist and HoD of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Lakeshore Hospital, Kochi, tobacco induced oral cancers is on the rise in Kerala. “Youngsters are increasingly developing an affinity for tobacco products, which are a definitive causative factor for mouth and throat cancers.”

Complimenting the Kerala Police for their action to curb tobacco use through noble endeavours such as model COTPA compliant districts, he said, “All sections of the society should support the police and other enforcement officials to ensure that no sale of tobacco products happen around any educational institution in Kerala, from primary schools to institutions of higher education.”

Section 6 (b) of COTPA prohibits the sale of tobacco products around 100 yards (91.4 metres) of any educational institution.

Dr MN Krishnan, Prof and Head, Department of Cardiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode feels that by working to control tobacco use through enforcing the law, police are not just helping to save lives but supporting the state’s economy as well.

“The economic burden to Kerala from tobacco use is very high; a study for the year 2011 found it is the highest for cardiovascular diseases at Rs 226 crores. This is precious resources going down the drain. Police, by acting against tobacco use, are doing a productive service not just to public health but also to our economy’s health.” 

He added that the fine amount collected by the police and other enforcement agencies should be pumped in for tobacco control measures.

From 16,363 challans for COTPA violations during May-July 2013, police have strengthened efforts and have fined/challaned 26,797 persons during May-July 2014, as per Kerala Police website. Fine amount collected from COTPA violators have also increased by 115 per cent in the same period. From Rs 2,270,950 in 2013, it rose to Rs 4,877,550 in 2014. 
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Thursday, 25 September 2014

COTPA implementation: Kerala Government authorises Excise Inspectors

The Kerala Government vide GO(P) No. 155-2014/TD dated 20 September 2014 has authorised Excise Department for implementing COTPA, 2003. Officers of the rank of the Excise Inspectors and above can now take action under Sections 12 and 13 of COTPA.

Section 12 of COTPA 2003 states: (1) Any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other officer, holding the equivalent rank being not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central Government or by the State Government may, if he has any reason to suspect that any provision of this Act has been, or is being, contravened, enter and search in the manner prescribed, at any reasonable time, any factory, building, business premises or any other place,

a. where any trade or commerce in cigarettes or any other tobacco products is carried on or cigarettes or any other tobacco products are produced, supplied or distributed; or 

b. where any advertisement of the cigarettes or any other tobacco products has been or is being made.

(2) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, shall apply to every search and seizure made under this Act.

Section 13 of COTPA 2003 reads: (1) If any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector or any officer of State Food or Drug Administration or any other officer, holding the equivalent rank being not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, authorised by the Central Government or by the State Government, has any reason to believe that, 

a. in respect of any package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products, or
b. in respect of any advertisement of cigarettes or any other tobacco products, 

the provisions of this Act have been, or are being, contravened, he may seize such package or advertisement material in the manner prescribed.

(2) No package of cigarettes or any other tobacco products or advertisement material seized under clause (a) of sub-section (1) shall be retained by the officer who seized the package or advertisement material for a period exceeding ninety days from the date of the seizure unless the approval of the District Judge, within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such seizure was made, has been obtained for such retention.
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Friday, 19 September 2014

TFK salutes Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan

Tobacco Free Kerala salutes Hon'ble Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan for championing the cause of tobacco control

video


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Monday, 15 September 2014

Expert Committee recommends sterner tobacco control measures

An expert committee set up by the Health Ministry for recommending amendments to the Tobacco Regulation Act is likely to recommend that the minimum age for smoking be increased to 25 years from the current 18 years.

The committee is also in favour of raising fines for tobacco related offences, including smoking in public, but has decided that the increase should be at a reasonable level. However, the final report on amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, is yet to be prepared.

Former Delhi Health Secretary Ramesh Chandra, who heads the committee, said the report will be ready early next week.

“We are in favour of raising the minimum age for smoking to 25 years. We also want fines for tobacco-related offences to be raised and among the suggestions that we have received is one that says that the fine for smoking in public should be Rs 20,000. We have not taken a call on what that amount should be but we understand that proposing an amount that is not practical will only cause the government to reject that recommendation. We do not want that. We also want the sale of loose cigarettes to be stopped and the size of the pictorial warning to be raised,” said one of the members of the committee.

Members explained that the inputs of the committee are more of a technical nature, delineating international best practices and the health effects of tobacco. “The final shape of the report is being decided in consultation with the ministry representative,” explained a member. 

Among the other offences for which the committee wants fines to be raised are for sale of tobacco products to underage people, advertisements at the point of sale and repeat offenders especially when they are traders or companies violating COTPA regulations.

Source: Indian Express

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Radio Benziger takes up the cause of tobacco control

In the interest of public health, Radio Benziger – India’s first hospital based radio has begun dedicated transmission of tobacco control messages in association with Tobacco Free Kerala – a coalition working for tobacco control in Kerala. 

The transmission, which began on August 30, involves multiple repeats of spots on the harms of tobacco, made available by Tobacco Free Kerala in liaison with World Lung Foundation, the technical partner to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in tobacco control communications.


Currently, 30-second Malayalam spots titled ‘Artery’ and ‘Dhuan’ are alternately repeated eight times over the radio’s 15-hour daily broadcast period. ‘Artery’ describes how cigarette/bidi smoking clogs up the main artery leading to the heart and ‘Dhuan’ is about the dangers of second hand smoke as a result of smoking which is banned in public places. 


Under the Indian tobacco control law, COTPA 2003, smoking is prohibited in all places where public has access as of right or not; violations can invite a spot fine of up to Rs 200. The law empowers 21 categories of officials including Police, Health and Education to act against violators.


Fr. Ferdinand Peter, Director, Radio Benziger said, “Tobacco is a leading preventable cause of many fatal illnesses, and this current project is part of our efforts to forewarn and save the lives of as many people as possible, especially children, from the maladies of this sinful substance. Though we have tackled tobacco control earlier as well, this is first time we have dedicated specific time slots for this purpose in our community radio.”


Radio Benziger, which began operations in 2010, now reaches over 4 lakh people around a 20 km radius in and around Kollam district.  The major target group of the radio is the coastal population.


A study conducted by Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in coastal wards of Kollam Corporation last year had brought out that nearly 37% males smoke tobacco – much higher than the Kerala average of 27.9% and national average of 24.3% for males, as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2009-10).


Shri S Jayaraj, State Coordinator, Tobacco Free Kerala said, “We are happy that Radio Benziger readily accepted our proposal for transmitting tobacco control messages through their network. We are looking forward to a strong partnership with this popular community Radio in the fight to save our people, mainly the younger generation from tobacco harms.”


Radio Benziger can be heard by tuning in to FM 107.8 MHz. Programme sharing is possible through ‘Ek Duniya Anek Awaaz’ - a web based free and open audio content and resource exchange platform for community radio broadcasters.
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Economic costs of tobacco use: Kerala surpasses neighbours

Kerala has emerged as a leader of sorts in South India with the huge economic burden it shoulders on account of tobacco use. God’s Own Country has left behind its tobacco cultivating neighbours Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, reveals the findings of a major recent national study conducted to estimate the economic dimensions of tobacco use.

The study supported by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation brings out that the economic resources lost in treating and managing four major tobacco-induced diseases is nearly 75 per cent more than Karnataka. While Kerala burns out Rs 545.4 crores, it is Rs 314.7 crores in Karnataka.

Monetary resources lost due to tobacco use in Tamil Nadu is nearly 17 per cent lesser than Kerala, at Rs 467 crores.

The report following the study called ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India’ developed by the Public Health Foundation of India has estimated the economic costs on persons aged 35 – 69 in the year 2011. It has estimated both direct medical costs and indirect morbidity costs in two categories – all tobacco-induced diseases, and four specific diseases – cardiovascular diseases (CVDs); cancer, tuberculosis and respiratory disease.

Direct medical costs include direct healthcare expenditure for inpatient hospitalisation or outpatient visits such as medicines, diagnostic tests, bed charges and surgeon’s fees. Indirect costs accrue from expenses incurred on transportation and lodging charges for caregivers, loss of household income due to inpatient hospitalisation, besides costs from premature death. 

A similar pattern prevails with regard to economic burden of tobacco use from all diseases, with Kerala facing a greater pinch than Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The economic cost in Kerala on all diseases is Rs 1513.7 crores, as against Rs 983.1 crores in Karnataka and Rs 1171.3 crores in Tamil Nadu.

In line with consumption patterns, tobacco-induced costs are higher among Kerala males as compared to females. Among males, higher costs – both direct and indirect – accrue from smoking tobacco products as against smokeless tobacco products.

On four diseases specifically, tobacco use among Kerala males causes a loss of Rs 518.9 crores, which is nearly 90 per cent more than in Karnataka and 40 per cent more than in Tamil Nadu. Tobacco induced economic costs among Kerala females is Rs 26.4 crores.

Kerala’s saving grace is Andhra Pradesh, a major tobacco producing state in India, which leads with the highest economic burden due to tobacco use among southern states.

The study, among others, recommends prioritisation of tobacco control measures such as strengthening implementation of Indian tobacco control law, COTPA, 2003; uniform taxes on all tobacco products such as cigarettes and bidis; prohibition on sale and manufacture of all forms of smokeless tobacco products/chewing tobacco and high visibility public awareness campaigns to consistently reach different target audiences.


The Value Added Tax on cigarettes in Kerala is 22 per cent and bidis are not taxed at all.
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Thiruvananthapuram set to become first smoke-free district

By August 31, all government, public sector and private offices in the district are would become 'Smoke-free' as the district collector has issued directives as part of the drive to make the district the first district in the state to comply with the Indian Tobacco Control law - Cotpa. 

"Initially, directions were issued to ensure a smoke-free environment in all public places, government, public and private offices and establishments in the district by August 15. As some had sought more time to implement it, the deadline to ensure a smoke-free district was extended till 31st," district collector Biju Prabhakar told TOI. 

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting convened by the district collector with representatives of all major departments such as city and rural police, education, excise, local self government, corporation, food Safety, health, RCC, transport and railways on Tuesday. 

The directive states that all workplaces, government, public offices and private establishments in the district should ensure a smoke-free environment according to Section 4 of Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (Cotpa). It has outlined the need to set up warning boards in bilingual template of no less than 60cmx30cm on display at workplaces and public places. 

"Enforcement of the drive to ensure a smoke-free public space in any government, public and private office or establishment will help reduce the menace, even if not 100% eradication. In a workplace or a hotel, smoking should not be permitted in a public space as it will affect others's health. A separate smoker's chamber or room should be there," Biju Prabhakar said. 

With Tobacco-free Kerala, making all workplaces smoke-free is critical to achieving the target of Kerala's first Cotpa compliant district and it will make the state capital a model in the public health arena, he added. 

After the enforcement drive against tobacco products and pan masala, it is almost banned in Kerala with the convergence of various departments including, excise and food safety, he said. 

Courtesy: Times of India
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