Over 500 Youths urge Government to amend India's Tobacco Law to save young lives

For representational purpose

 For representational purpose


Over 500 youths including youth associations across all country have urged the Government to amend India’s tobacco control law Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) to protect the youth from falling prey to the menace of tobacco products.

Hyderabad: Over 500 youths including youth associations across all country have urged the Government to amend India's tobacco control law Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) to protect the youth from falling prey to the menace of tobacco products. While appreciating the Government for initiating the process to amend COTPA 2003, they appealed for banning tobacco advertising around educational institutions.

In the letter addressed to the Government of India by 500 youths, the youth groups have urged the Government to increase the legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21, to impose a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and to promote and ban sale of single sticks of cigarettes/bidis, stating that it would go a long way in preventing children and youth from initiating tobacco use at an early age.

The appeal came from these youths urging the Government for enabling a healthy and addiction free growing ecosystem for the young people of the country. A strong nation away from addictions is possible by making tobacco products unaffordable and out of reach from young people in the country.

"It is scientifically established that if a person is kept away from tobacco till the age of 21 and above, there is a very high probability that he/she will remain tobacco-free for the rest of his life," said Priyank Kanongoo, Chairman, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

According to the youth groups, 5500 children begin tobacco use daily in India and consequently may become addicted. It's critical to make sure we strengthen our laws and penalty provisions to deter tobacco companies from selling and advertising of their addictive products to our children and youth.

Countries are increasingly recognising that almost all those who become long term tobacco users begin tobacco use while they are adolescents. Pre and post-implementation data show increasing the tobacco age to 21 will help to prevent young people from ever starting to smoke and to reduce the deaths, disease and health care costs caused by tobacco use.

At least 14 countries (Ethiopia, Guam, Honduras, Japan, Kuwait, Mongolia, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, and the U.S.) have now increased the minimum age to 21 for buying tobacco products. At least 86 countries have banned the sale of single stick cigarettes to control their easy accessibility and affordability to youth.

"Tobacco use not only harms our health but it is also a threat to the health of our friends and family. Additionally, tobacco users also have a greater risk of developing severe cases of cancer. I want ALL of you to break free from dependence on tobacco and stay healthy", PV Sindhu, ACE Badminton Player & Olympian, Padma Bhushan & Padma Shri.

The Government of India has started the COTPA Amendment process and introduced the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Increasing the minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 and banning the sale of loose/single stick of cigarettes by amending COTPA 2003 are crucial to protect youth from tobacco as it has the potential to reduce tobacco use initiation and progression to regular smoking

Sharing her personal experience of how tobacco addiction took away her father, Preethi, a student at MDD Bal Bhawan, Haryana said "Addiction to tobacco took away my dad when I was 12 years old. I understand the pain of losing a dear one to tobacco. I urge the Government to amend COTPA 2003 to protect our children & youth from falling prey to the menace of tobacco."

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey, India indicates that 38% of cigarettes, 47% of bidi

smokers and 52% of smokeless tobacco users initiated the use before their tenth birthday. The median age of initiation to cigarette and bidi-smoking, and smokeless tobacco use were 11.5 years, 10.5 years and 9.9 years respectively.

India has the second largest number of tobacco users (268 million or 28.6% of all adults in India) in the world – of these at least 1.2 million die every year from tobacco related diseases. One million deaths are due to smoking, with over 200,000 due to second-hand smoke exposure, and over 35,000 are due to smokeless tobacco use. Nearly 27% of all cancers in India are due to tobacco usage. The total direct and indirect cost of diseases attributable to tobacco use was a staggering Rupees 182,000 crore which is nearly 1.8% of India's GDP. Tobacco use in all forms, whether smoking or chewing, is associated with severe COVID-19 casualties as per advisories issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICMR.

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