Regional Report on Tobacco Industry Interference in South Asia

Regional Report on Tobacco Industry Interference in South Asia

The tobacco epidemic continues today, claiming the lives of about 8 million people worldwide every year. Increasingly, interference by the tobacco industry has been known to hinder progress in tobacco control. Given the growing concerns with respect to tobacco industry interference (TII) in South Asia, the Institute of Public Health Bengaluru in collaboration with the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) launched a South Asia Public Health Fellowship in December last year. Through an 8-month fellowship period, seven fellows selected from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka curated four

country-specific case studies on how a transnational tobacco corporation like British American Tobacco (BAT) and its country affiliates interferes in tobacco control efforts in the region. Based on the country cases curated by the fellows, the project team prepared and published a regional report titled, “Interference by Big Tobacco and Affiliates in Tobacco Control in South Asia”. The regional report is available for download here.

Regional Consultations on ‘Implementation of Tobacco Control Policies in India’

Regional Consultations on ‘Implementation of Tobacco Control Policies in India’

The burden of tobacco-related illnesses is high in India, with about 1.35 million people dying each year. Despite comprehensive tobacco control laws and policies, implementation is varied among Indian states. The Anushthana project organized two regional consultations—held online and in-person in Raipur, Chhattisgarh—in association with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).  The consultations brought together government officials from health, food safety, police and relevant departments, independent researchers, and  members from civil society organizations from 18 states and union territories who are working in the field of tobacco control and public health.

The purpose of the regional consultations were to

  • Discuss state-specific tobacco control implementation strategies
  • Cross-pollinate ideas and facilitate research and practice collaborations in tobacco control
  • Promote leadership and highlight a set of best practices in tobacco control.
Anushthana team conducts field observations in three Indian states

Anushthana team conducts field observations in three Indian states

Tobacco kills over one million adults in a high-burden country like India each year. Despite a comprehensive tobacco control law – the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, implementation remains varied across Indian states due to several contextual factors. The Anushthana team members (Dr. Pragati Hebbar, Vivek Dsouza, Praveen Rao S, and Kumaran P) of the Chronic Conditions and Public Policies cluster at IPH visited three Indian states i.e. West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, and Kerala during the months of November and December 2021. The objective of the field visit was to understand local contexts and on-ground implementation successes and challenges in the field of tobacco control. The team undertook field observations in three districts of each state focussing on the implementation of COTPA sections 4, 5, 6, and 7. Simultaneously, the team met relevant stakeholders to understand  their views on tobacco control policy implementation.

To aid the data collection, the team worked with Julee Jerang (IPH field consultant in Arunachal Pradesh) and MANT (a non-profit public health organisation in West Bengal). The field visit is part of a five-year research fellowship awarded to Dr. Pragati Hebbar and is funded by the DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance.

IPH, Bengaluru staff participate in the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health

IPH, Bengaluru staff participate in the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health

Thirteen members of the Chronic Conditions and Public Policies cluster at IPH actively participated in the three day conference of the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH). This three-day scientific programme focused on diverse public health issues and challenges in tobacco control at the national and sub-national level along with context-specific solutions for their replication towards achieving tobacco free environments. There were plenary sessions, panel discussions, symposia, oral presentation, poster discussion, and workshops on many aspects of tobacco control which will pave the way towards building effective policy and program.

Dr Upendra Bhojani, Riddhi Dsouza, Anand Kumar, Kanika Chaudhary, Ketki Shah, Dr Pragati Hebbar, Vivek Dsouza, Dr Chandrashekar Kottagi, Kranthi Vysyaraju, Aishwarya Ashok, Praveen Rao, Achyutha Nagara Gadde and Kumaran P from the Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bengaluru actively participated in this 3-day national conference held between September 25 and 27, 2021.
Dr Upendra Bhojani, Director, IPH Bengaluru on Day 1 (September 25, 2021) was in a panel discussion and presented on “How should we approach commercial determinant of health?”, he was part of the plenary session on September 26, 2021 on “Emerging Issues in Tobacco Control: Contextualising Global Interventions” and he presented on “Tobacco Industry Interference”.

Dr Pragati Hebbar made two oral presentations- “Implementation’ of tobacco control policies in LMICs – a realist synthesis to explain the process and its facilitators and barriers” and the second, “LifeFirst: Impact of a school-based tobacco- and supari-cessation intervention among adolescents in Mumbai, India.”

This national conference was a boost to tobacco control efforts by the amalgamation of tobacco control professionals, health programme managers, public health experts, civil society advocates, academicians and researchers of various clinical and non-clinical disciplines from different states across the country under one roof who shared their contextual experiences and best practices in tobacco control which was aimed to ultimately lead to advancing tobacco control in the country.

To get a glimpse of the 5th NCTOH click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drv30sDRoTU

Preventing TII in Karnataka

Preventing TII in Karnataka

Consultancy project with the State Anti-Tobacco Cell

Symposium on Applied Research in Tobacco Control and Regional Stakeholder Meeting’ (Virtual) was held on 16th September 2021 in association with the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme and State Tobacco Control Cell, Government of Karnataka. Dr. Upendra Bhojani (Director, IPH-Bengaluru) was invited to talk about Tobacco Industry Interference (TII) prevention measures for Karnataka. The event was organised by Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE).

Paper on food laws to ban smokeless tobacco products in India

Paper on food laws to ban smokeless tobacco products in India

Consultancy project with the State Anti-Tobacco Cell

(BMJ) Tobacco Control recently published a paper by Dr. Upendra Bhojani and Riddhi Dsouza from the DEEP project at the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru. The paper analysed how several states in India used food laws to ban certain smokeless tobacco products overcoming the intense legal resistance mounted by the tobacco industry. This was done by analysing all the tobacco-related litigations under food law in the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. The full text of the paper titled “Strategic and contested use of food laws to ban smokeless tobacco products in India: a qualitative analysis of litigation” can be found here.