|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 245-249
Tobacco industry tactics with advertisements at the point of sale in Mumbai
S Patel, H Rendell, S Maudgal, K Oswal
Cancer Patients Aid Association, Anand Niketan, King George V Memorial, Dr. E. Moses Road, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Web Publication||23-Sep-2013|
Cancer Patients Aid Association, Anand Niketan, King George V Memorial, Dr. E. Moses Road, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
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.
Keywords: Advertisement and promotion, point of sale, tobacco industry tactics
|How to cite this article:|
Patel S, Rendell H, Maudgal S, Oswal K. Tobacco industry tactics with advertisements at the point of sale in Mumbai. Indian J Cancer 2013;50:245-9
Tobacco advertising and promotion have been banned in almost all countries around the world. In India, it has been observed that the tobacco industry has now shifted focus to advertising at point of sale outlets by exploiting loopholes in relevant portions of The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Signages have been placed outside establishments that may or may not be selling tobacco products with huge, colorful backgrounds mimicking the colors and design of different brands of tobacco, including pictures, descriptors, backlighting, and other eye-catching decorative embellishments. This signage's have taken the place of hoardings. Hoardings imply outdoor and billboard advertisements at public places including express highways, other motor ways, parks, and recreational centers. These are becoming the prime avenue for marketing tobacco products in direct or indirect violation of COTPA regulations. The aim of the present study was to monitor and report these violations of COTPA laws in letter and/or sprit in Mumbai.
| » Background|| |
Point of Sale (POS) is broadly defined as a place in the wholesale or retail environment where tobacco products are sold. Point of sale advertising weakens the effectiveness of tobacco control laws, and exposes the population to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Research studies shows that the youth are particularly vulnerable to POS advertising and promotion. Display at point-of-sale is aimed at keeping cigarette visible to the public and normalizing the product.
Norway was one of the first countries to regulate tobacco advertising in a comprehensive manner beginning with its legislative efforts as far back as 1975.  Many countries like Canada, Australia, and Singapore under its tobacco control act comprehensively ban all forms of direct and indirect advertisements. 
Thailand had set a bench mark by banning advertisement of cigarette and display of cigarette packs at the point of sale.  Bangladesh has prohibited all direct tobacco advertising and several indirect forms. Bangladesh law uniquely provides for mobile courts and multi-sectoral task forces at the district level to track advertising regulation violations. 
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. 
One of the regulatory measures was a ban on direct and indirect advertisement which was further modified. Prohibition of advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Notification 31st May 2005 (Vide GSR 345 (E), point 4)  states that the size of the board used for the advertisement of cigarettes and any other tobacco products displayed at the entrance of a warehouse or a shop where cigarettes or any other tobacco products are offered for sale shall not exceed 60 cm by 45 cm. Two such boards are allowed. Each such board shall contain in an Indian language as applicable, one of the following warnings occupying the top edge of the board in a prominent manner measuring 20 cm by 15 cm, namely: (i) Tobacco causes cancer or (ii) Tobacco kills. The health warning referred to in sub-rule 2 must be prominent, legible, and in black color with white background. The display board shall only list the type of tobacco products available and no brand pack shot, brand name of the tobacco product or other promotional message or picture should be displayed on the board. The display board shall not be backlit or illuminated in any manner.
There are very few studies documenting the point of sale violations in advertising and promotion in India after the implementation of the ban. The aim of the present study is to monitor and report the tactics used by the tobacco industry in violation in letter and/or sprit of advertising and promotion of tobacco product laws in Mumbai.
| » Materials and Methods|| |
The survey was carried out by Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA). The study was carried out with five volunteers interviewing the vendors. For the project the 10 of 24 wards of Mumbai city, with highest population density were included [Figure 1], [Table 1]. Out of the 10 wards, 5 wards were randomly selected for the study. In each ward, 15 shops and 10 kiosks which had visible advertisements were selected. The study was carried out during the period of August and October, 2010. The volunteers were trained with respect to the objective and information needed to be captured. The survey consisted of two parts-an observational study, followed by an interviewer administered questionnaire. Observations like size of boards, placement, language, and wording of health warnings were recorded. Apart from this, observations were also made on whether the vendor is within 100 yards of a school. The questionnaire was administered to those owners of establishments covered who agreed to answer and captured information such as any incentive received from tobacco companies for placement of the signages. Photographs were taken at the venues where it was possible. The data captured was coded and entered into excel sheet. The data analysis was done using SPSS software (version 16). Ward specific photos were sorted. The study was approved by the CPAA Scientific committee and an independent Ethics committee.
| » Results|| |
A total of 125 establishments (58 shops, 55 kiosks, and 12 other sites) with display boards were surveyed across 5 wards. [Figure 2] depicts a few representative photographs of the shops.
[Table 2] shows ward-wise violations reported based on the observations. It was noted that the most common violation was the placements of boards, mainly placed above the shop. The display boards were oversized (size more than 60 x 30 cm) and few of the advertisements were highlighted with backlights. There were non-tobacco selling vendors like restaurants, grocery shops, telecom center who had display boards advertisements of cigarette brand. Visible promotions in the form of stickers, posters were evident across the wards. Products with visible promotions were different brands of gutka (36%), pan masala (20%), and cigarettes (18%).
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. The survey also revealed that shop owners stocking tobacco but not located on main roads were not offered boards. The most advertised brands were Gold Flake (25%), Four Square (19%), Classic (13%), Marlboro (12%), and Navy Cut (11%).
| » Discussion|| |
The most common violation of the COTPA laws was the size of the board. The results are consistent with earlier study done by Chaudhry et al.  in 2007 soon after the implementation of COTPA laws. Even when only one board was placed, the background was large enough to occupy the entire front façade of the shop. The boards were placed on top of the shop to ensure the greatest possible visibility. In some instances, two boards were placed next to each other with a common background. The shops preferred for the placement of display boards were those which were on the main road. Many of the boards were illuminated or backlit which is again a violation in COTPA laws. The backlight was on throughout the night even though the shops were closed. In most of the cases, the health warnings were in the same color as the background brand image, hence masking the effect of the warning. Most of the shops had visible promotion in the form of stickers and danglers. Promotion in the form of pictures was also evident.
Another common violation is the advertisement of smokeless tobacco products. The COTPA act covers all form of tobacco products, whether smoked or smokeless. Most of the tobacco company manufacturing gutka also manufacture plain pan masala. The advertisement of pan masala is increasing in both print and electronic media. During our study, the interviewer inquired about few specific brands of pan masala like Goa 1000, Rajeshree, RMD which were advertised and learnt that the vendor stocked gutka, not pan masala of that particular brand, by means of surrogate advertisement.
Most of the vendors did not have the required signage stating that sale to minors is banned and many were within 100 yards of school premises. The few requisite signages displayed were neither legible nor correct. When asked, 65% of the vendors admitted that they had received payment from the tobacco industry. Some of the vendors had refurbished the entire shop to mimic that of the brand. Many kiosks and stalls were sponsored entirely by the tobacco company.
Exposure to POS tobacco advertising, including product displays, influences tobacco use especially in the young and motivates impulsive purchases. It creates a positive image toward a particular brand. , In recently revealed research documents of tobacco industry, Philip Morris states "We should have Marlboro (and other PM brands) positioned in the store to take advantage of the impulse shopper… Where the best spots for are promotional offers, POS, etc.? We are after intrusive visibility."  The tobacco industry is adopting strategic marketing practices in India that have been documented in other parts of the world. Prior to the ban, a study done by Bansal et al.  also documented the fact that the industry developed sophisticated campaigns targeting men, women, and children in different socioeconomic groups in Mumbai.
A United States study estimates that banning POS advertising and requiring cigarette packs to be kept out of sight can reduce adolescents' exposure to cigarette brand impressions by as much as 83%.  A study in 30 developing countries found that even partial bans resulted in a 13.6% reduction in per capita consumption and 23.5% in countries with comprehensive bans. 
Action-based advocacy is needed for effective tobacco control. As a part of sensitization, the study results were disseminated to the media which resulted in few 10 (8%) of the boards being removed [Figure 3]. A national representative sample would provide wider inputs as the study was limited only to Mumbai.
|Figure 3: Post media release the advertisement in one of the shops was removed|
Click here to view
| » Conclusion|| |
Civil society and various non-governmental organizations have spoken out regarding the tactics used by the tobacco industry. Many cases are under trial but much time has been lost and the industry has been able to place the signages at strategic places, helping to market their products and establish a brand image among the public.
Countries like Australia are moving toward a total ban of advertising and promotion at the point of sale. Measures like allowing only the display of brand name at point of sale may help ensure that nonusers, youth, and adolescences do not take up the habit. Although passage of COTPA is a significant event in tobacco control, it will be effective only if it is strictly enforced. Proactive and punitive measures for both the vendors and the tobacco companies, by the enforcement agency including Municipal Co-rporation of Greater Mumbai or the Food and Drug administration of the respective ward, and the police of greater Mumbai city, is needed. The lack of awareness among the vendors and the remuneration offered by the tobacco companies necessitates increased enforcement of the regulation and COTPA laws.
| » Acknowledgments|| |
The authors wish to acknowledge the work put in by volunteers who collected the data for the study.
| » References|| |
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
[Table 1], [Table 2]