Introduction: The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertising and Regulations of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003 (COTPA) set out a number of stringent regulations to address tobacco promotion, some of which were revised in 2004. The aim of the study was to monitor the industry tactics at the point of sale with advertising and promotion of tobacco product in Mumbai.
Materials and methods: The study was carried out by Cancer Patients Aid Association in Mumbai with the help of volunteers. The surveys consisted of two parts, observational information and an interviewer administered questionnaire. Observations like size of board, display of advertisement, backlighting, and use of any promotion were noted. A questionnaire captured information about any incentives from tobacco companies for advertisement and promotion was administered to the vendors who agreed to participate. Study was approved by the Scientific and independent Ethics committee.
Results: Total 125 establishments (58 shops, 55 kiosks, 12 other sites) with display boards were surveyed across 5 wards in Mumbai. It was noted that the most common violation was the placements of boards, mainly placed above the shop. The display boards were oversized and few of the advertisements were highlighted with backlights. Out of 125 tobacco vendors surveyed, 107 (85.5%) vendors agreed to answer the questionnaire. We noted that a majority of 67% (84 vendors) stated that they had been approached by tobacco companies to place the signages during the past 5 years post COTPA came into effect. 79 vendors (65 %) admitted to being paid by the tobacco companies.
Discussion: Although the civil society and various non-governmental organizations has casted voice against the industry tactics but ineffective enforcement of the law is a major hurdle. It is likely that cigarette companies will be further able to overcome advertising restrictions by finding loopholes in tobacco legislation unless the decision makers ban it comprehensively as evident in other countries.