By monitoring advertising in 20 cities, researchers are detailing the methods used by the tobacco industry to flout the rules, particularly by selling products to vulnerable children and youth.

Companies advertise tobacco products through posters and take advantage of the opportunity to sell products in stores located near schools, as well as low prices and the sale of cigarettes to the unit.

Indian law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 and prohibits stores from selling tobacco products within 100 meters of any educational institution.

State governments license tobacco shops on the condition that "stores authorized to sell tobacco products may not sell any product other than tobacco, such as mousses, candies, potato chips, cookies, non-alcoholic beverages, etc., which are primarily intended for children ". said Ashwini Choubey, Minister of State for Family Health and Welfare.

But weak law enforcement and lack of controls have allowed the illegal sale of tobacco near schools, according to experts.

The enforcement of Indian tobacco laws is extremely poor, with agencies having neither the ability nor the willingness to do so, said Hemant Upadhyay, advisor to the Consumer VOICE voluntary action group. .

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The research was conducted by Consumer VOICE and the Voluntary Health Association of India in one month in 2017 in six states.

A total of 243 schools were visited and the report indicates that street vendors are the most used place for the sale of tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and cigarettes.

"The sellers display tobacco products in an appealing way for children and young people, with 91% of the display units being one meter away – the eye level of the child." It is estimated that 54% of the retail outlets had none. health warning, and 90% of the displays were next to sweets, sweets and toys – items sold to children, "says the report.

Fall behind the rest

India has weakened in the global race to reduce the use of tobacco, in terms of production and consumption.

With an agricultural industry heavily dependent on tobacco growing, the Indian government is struggling to wean farmers. Annual tobacco production in the country is close to 800 million kilograms (881,849 US tons), according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

India is the second largest tobacco exporter in the world, according to the India Brand Enhancement Foundation, which generated about $ 770 million in foreign currency in 2017.

In India, 28.6% of people over age 15 and about 15% of children ages 13 to 15 have consumed some form of tobacco by 2018, according to the World Health Organization.
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In 2016, nearly 13% of deaths in the country were tobacco related, according to the Tobacco Atlas.

India has been trying to enforce stricter laws to reduce the growing population of smokers or tobacco users, and most smokeless tobacco products have been banned.

The government has cracked down on consumption by raising taxes, warning cigarette packets, banning e-cigarettes in several states and raising awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco.

And there has been progress.

According to the Department of Health and Family, smoking prevalence increased from 34.6% in 2009-2010 to 28.6% in 2016-17 and 62% of cigarette smokers considered quitting smoking due to smoking. warning labels.

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In contrast, countries such as the United States have experienced a remarkable decline in the number of smokers. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking has risen from nearly 40% in the mid-1960s to 17% in 2017.

In India, a government report indicates that smoking among 15-17 year olds increased from 10% in 2010 to 4% in 2017.

The impact of a bad application

Tobacco kills more than a million people each year in India, according to WHO.

According to the Indian government, the average age of initiation to smoking is 18.9 years. In the United States, the average age is 15.3 years and in Europe, it reaches 16 years for boys and 15 for girls.

"Tobacco initiation has decreased between 18 and 22 years, which indicates that we have made good progress," said Consumer VOICE CEO Ashim Sanyal.

But the figures could rise if the violation of Indian laws continues, said Sanyal, adding that local authorities must act.