Thursday, February 25, 2021

Unscrupulous promotion

The war on tobacco products has gained momentum with the central government placing in public domain a new bill, which prohibits advertising a brand originally named after cigarettes for other consumer products, for amendments after inviting suggestion from the public. This will go a long way in striking at the root of the problem and prohibiting promotion of tobacco products under their brand names in a manner that should not be allowed in advertising their products under the garb of different consumer items. In fact, the government would have done a great service to the people by including such malpractices of the corporate houses while they promote and advertise their brands of liquor and intoxicating drinks through the backdoor while promoting non-toxic and non-liquor consumable drinks. The chewable tobacco products which are freely available and are being marketed by the companies should also be included in such prohibition of campaigns by the central government so that their consumption is also discouraged among the people. It is well understood that tobacco consumption is very high in a particular age group of youth in the country. At one-third of the tobacco products consumers are in the age groups of 17 to 24 years and brand promotions should be stopped at the first instance. The sale of loose cigarettes also accounts for more than 70% of the sales of cigarettes in the country and a ban on sale of single pieces has brought down the consumption of the tobacco products and this figure is significant for the reason that this enforcement has been started only in the recent past. Gradually, such a phenomenon is likely to curb the consumption of such products by big numbers in the months and years to come since the awareness is spreading among the people on the harmful use of such products. It will not be out of place to mention that display and advertising of tobacco products at major exhibitions or festivals by the organizers in different parts of the country is widespread and needs to be taken serious note of by the enforcement agencies. Since the government has been heavily taxing such tobacco products and earning a good amount of revenue, alternate ways and means have to be found out for maintaining the revenue earning of the government for development purposes. It is estimated that a major part of the excise duty levied on manufacture of tobacco products is a source of revenue for the central government compared to any other industry in the country. It has been mainly due to this reason that revenue earning from tobacco products and liquor that the central government has been reluctantly moving on this issue during the past many decades for imposing a ban on these products. Similar has been situation on chewing tobacco products, which have been responsible for most mouth cancer related diseases fatalities in India. The ban on chewing tobacco products has started showing some effects during the past few years. The ban on such products has brought down the sale and consumption of these products among youth. But still the government should also implement the awareness campaigns against consumption of these harmful products through mass media and other channels to make people aware and stop their use. So far as bidis are concerned, they are also accounting for more 85% of the total smoking products sold in the country. The government needs to move forward and also check their sale in packets with sufficient warning signs on them. These signs should be made significant in the packing so that they can have the desired effect on the lower classes, who mainly consume bidis and other raw tobacco products. Apart from this, the government also needs to move forward as far as promotion and advertisements of liquor brands are concerned under the garb of promoting consumer products including drinking water and energy drinks in the country. A major parts of advertisement spending is done on such products under liquor brand names to make them appealing to the consumers, which needs to be checked at the earliest.