It's just not the consumption of tobacco, which is dangerous. Its marketing techniques, including advertisements, also have negative consequences. A recent survey of school children in Chennai and Delhi showed exposure to tobacco ads made children five times more susceptible to consuming it, and those receptive to marketing techniques were more than twice as likely to have used tobacco in any of its form. The survey found that 11-year olds had their favourite brands and among them are itc's Wills cigarettes and Kothari Ltd's pan parag.
Researchers from University of Texas and ngos, Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu Voluntary Health Association carried out the study. They measured the current and past use of tobacco of 11,748 students from 32 schools, and from different socio-economic groups. The survey also tried to evaluate if a child intended to use tobacco in future.
"Advertising and promotions make young people more susceptible to tobacco use by influencing their psychosocial risk factors and are strongly predictive of subsequent use," says Monika Arora, the lead author. Though India has a comprehensive legal framework to control advertising of tobacco products, the rules are rarely implemented. There has been a ban on advertising tobacco products since 2000 but tobacco companies continue to aggressively target the young. Arora suggests that ministers reviewing provisions of Indian Tobacco Control Act, 2006, must ensure strict and effective warnings are used on tobacco product packages to efficiently counter the messaging by the tobacco industry in India.
While the effect of advertisements on the prevalence of tobacco use has already been established in the West, this is the first time that such a study was carried out in India.