Declared ‘smoke free’ city in 2010, Shimla is witness to chinks in compliance to some parameters of COTPA, 2003, Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.
Two research studies shared by Department of Community Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), Shimla on the eve of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May point to this, glaringly.
Published in the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health earlier in 2019, the first research study assesses the compliance to COTPA, 2003 in tertiary healthcare institutes in Shimla (the fourth city in India to be declared smoke free nine years back).
According to corresponding author, Dr Ankit Chaudhary, the study was conducted to assess the compliance to smoke free Act in tertiary healthcare institutes in Shimla city, Himachal Pradesh.
A total of 57 public places and 8 shops in five Tertiary healthcare institutes were evaluated for various provisions of the Act. Compliance to different sections of the Act was assessed using a structured observational checklist.
Dr Chaudhary, who authored the study with Dr Anita Malhotra and Dr Anmol Gupta ( Professor and Head in the department of Community Medicine) and five other doctors, shared that the signage indicating ban on smoking was seen at 71.9 per cent places and active smoking was absent at 77.2 per cent places.
About 25 per cent shops around the institutes were found selling tobacco products. Signage displaying ban on sale within 100 m of educational institution and sale to minors was not observed at any shop.
While Tobacco product vendor was seen around 80 per cent of educational buildings, the Tobacco free institution signage was seen at 60 per cent of educational premises.
“The research study highlights that the level of compliance did not meet the standards laid down for the smoke free city,” said Dr Chaudhary.
The study suggests that the timely and periodic assessment of the compliance must be conducted by the administrative authorities of the institutes for ensuring adherence and strict implementation of provisions of COTPA, 2003.
The second study, published in the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health in May month only, is about COTPA 2003 compliance assessment of tobacco vendors and products- current status of an earliest smoke free city Indian city Authored by Dr Ankit Chaudhary and Dr Anita Thakur and six other doctors, mainly from department of Community Medicine, IGMC.
The authors assessed the compliance of 157 points of sale (points of sales) and 59 tobacco products to the Sections 5,7, 8, 9 and 10 of the smoke free legislation.
Dr Chaudhary shared that in total 41 per cent points of sale were advertising tobacco in one or the other form with product showcasing (64 per cent) being the most common modality of advertisement. Actual advertisement boards were seen at only 14.6 per cent of points of sale.
About 87 per cent of the advertisement carried a health warning. Loose cigarettes were being sold at about 77 per cent of the points of sale. All tobacco products available in the city were observed to display good compliance.
“However, none of the smoke products displayed nicotine and tar content on the pack, 16 years after COTPA was enforced to control and regulate tobacco consumption, advertisement and trade,” he said.
The authors concluded that discrepancies need to be addressed appropriately supplemented with aggressive monitoring of adherence to the Act in order to sustain smoke free status of the city.
Awareness activities on World No Tobacco Day
The Department of Community Medicine, IGMC will organise awareness activities on World No Tobacco Day on Friday at Sacred Heart Convent School in Shimla.
Besides two lectures on the ills of tobacco use, the department will organise a quiz and poster competition to engage the attention of school students on the important theme, said Dr Amit Sachdeva, a senior resident doctor in community medicine.