While legislation in India prohibits open tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS), tobacco sellers across the country have found sale points an easy way to aggressively market their products. Often Point of Sale section is being used to openly display tobacco ads without even showing adequate health warnings, a study pointed out.
According to a team of doctors from Post Graduate Institute (PGI) in Chandigarh who conducted a survey, Point of Sale equipment or areas surrounding the cash counter flout Section 5 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 openly. Though COTPA's provision permits such display ads near POS section, it insists that tobacco companies can promote their products with adequate display of warnings on health hazards.
The team, headed by Sonu Goel, conducted its research in three Indian cities - Mohali, Chennai and Vadodara, found that despite restrictions on tobacco products advertisements, sale point advertising was unabated without health warnings, as mandated by COTPA, says a Times of India report quoting PGI doctors’ study.
Violations by vendors in Mohali, Vadodara and Chennai include not showcasig health warnings, size of ad exceeding the specified limits and health hazard note not being shown on white backgrounds, the report said.
PGI Doctors also found that the most ideal methods of tobacco products advertisement were direct product displaying (51.1%), dangles (49.6%), by way of stickers (33.8%) and sign boards (27.1%). More than one fourth of POS areas were found not adhering to legal provisions while displaying advertisement. While ad boards (16.3%) without warnings were found, out of them 90% warning were not as per the specification in respect to font, size and background colour.
The study concluded that point of sale campaigning was aggressively followed by tobacco industry to promote their products. "There is an urgent need for efficient implementation of the ban on tobacco product ads, sponsorship and promotion at point of sale," it said.
For the sake of survey, a total of 1860 POS places were chosen with Mohali, Vadodara and Chennai accounting for 359, 501 and 1000 POS, respectively.