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COTPA Act amendment need of the hour to create tobacco-free environment: NCPCR

Launches “Addiction Free Amrit Kaal” campaign



Welcoming the Union Government’s decision to implement tobacco regulation on OTT (over-the-top) platforms which have seen nearly cent percent rise in viewership on kids’ content during the pandemic, health experts and child rights activists led by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) are of the opinion that the proposed amendments to the COTPA Act is an urgent necessity to create a tobacco-free environment for impressionable minds.

On its part, the NCPCR on May 31, 2023 launched a nationwide campaign “Addiction Free Amrit Kaal”, an initiative aimed at promoting a tobacco and drug-free India with the help of children.

The child rights body Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said, “Under this unique drive, children who are the most affected by indirect tobacco use, have been made members of ‘Prahari Clubs’ established in schools. They will serve as the government’s eyes and ears, sharing information if any tobacco-selling shop exists near their schools.”

Highlighting the link between tobacco products and drug addiction, Kanoongo noted that the entertainment industry plays a major role in enticing children into consumption of tobacco. While there are rules requiring warnings on tobacco product scenes in films, there was a pressing need for regulations regarding OTT platforms which have gained popularity in recent times and are being misused, he said, while informing that the NCPCR had been demanding regulation of tobacco use on OTT platforms.

At the same time, he advocated for a robust Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), which, in his opinion, can serve as an important tool in curbing tobacco use, especially among children. “This legislation encompasses stringent measures to restrict all forms of tobacco advertising at the point of sale and put an end to the practice of designated smoking zones in public places. These smoking zones pose significant harm to children who are exposed to tobacco smoke in these areas,” Kanoongo said during the event organised in technical partnership with Tobacco Free India, a citizens’ group.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Uma Kumar, Head of Rheumatology at AIIMS, Delhi, highlighted the health risks associated with drug and tobacco addiction as over 13 lakh people succumb to the toxic product.

“The COTPA Amendment Bill will not only save lives but also reduce the burden on the healthcare system,” she added.

Dr Jagdish Kaur, Regional Advisor, Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO echoed the same views while offering insight into the global perspective on addiction, prevention and control of tobacco use. As people are becoming more aware about the tobacco menace, the industry is adopting innovative ways to trap the youth, she warned. “We are glad that a move has been initiated to regulate OTT contents,” she said.

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