On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, a survey has pointed out that a majority of India’s population believes that stopping the sale of loose cigarettes can be instrumental in deterring smoking among people. The survey, “The Pulse of the Nation Poll” conducted jointly by Inshorts and Ipsos, included 8,179 unique participants between the age group of 18 and 30. Most of the participants were male. From effectiveness of warning graphics on cigarette boxes to the motivations behind smoking a cigarette, the poll recorded responses on various topics to map the trends about tobacco consumption. Few of the key findings include
Ban on Loose Cigarettes
About 59 per cent Indians believe that ban on single sticks will reduce the number of smokers in the country. Availability of cigarettes without any hassle makes it simpler for the smokers to sneak-in a stick at any point of the day. Also, the fact that a single stick is far more affordable than the whole pack makes it an attractive offer for the youngsters who manage to puff a smoke easily in a nearby paan-shop. About 61 per cent of active smokers also share a similar viewpoint.
In fact, the government of India had also come up with a proposal to support the prohibition on sale of unpacked cigarettes. Many states like Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh do not allow the trading of single sticks.
Graphic Images and Healthcare Expert
The poll also suggests that 69 per cent Indians disprove the idea of warning images on cigarette packs as a disincentive. In India more than three-quarters of space on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products is given to warn people about the harmful effects of smoking. It is also mandatory for films to show a statutory warning before the movie begins and also in any scene where tobacco consumption is shown. A number of people have however said it serves no purpose.
“Our survey shows that health experts’ advice on ills of smoking are taken more seriously vis-à-vis Warning Visuals on Cigarette Packs,” says Parijat Chakraborty, executive director, India, Ipsos Public Affairs. In fact, 83 per cent respondents said they reduced the number of cigarettes based on experts’ advice.
Freedom to choice
About 55 per cent participants also believed that tobacco purchasers must be given no freedom to choose the product that they wish to consume. The active smokers, however, did not agree with this. While 60 per cent of non-smokers supported the notion of no-freedom-of-choice, 52 per cent of smokers felt that the choice of consumption lied with them.
A lot is expected from the government as well, suggests the survey. Around 68 per cent of respondents reiterated that the government needs to bring up stringent rules and awareness programmes in order to reduce the problem of chewing tobacco.
Motivation to smoke
The poll also tried to look at the reasons behind picking the cancer stick. Around 41 per cent of the participants looked at smoking as a method to relieve stress. Even non-smokers were of the opinion that stress busting is the major cause of smoking; 12 per cent took to smoking because of the pre-existing addiction to other tobacco products and 6 per cent took it up because of media influence. 28 per cent of those surveyed got entangled in the web of smoking because of the ‘cool factor’ associated with it. “Key disparity lies in 2nd most important motivation for smoking – while smokers say addiction, non-smokers feel it is to look cool. Smokers and non-smokers espouse ineffectiveness of warning pictures on cigarette packs,” added Parijat Chakraborty.
Azhar Iqubal, CEO and Co-founder, InShorts, further added, “At InShorts, we started with Pulse of the Nation Polls to truly understand the opinions of the present generation. Now that India has spoken on the World No Tobacco Day, we are hopeful that the healthcare bodies and policy-makers will closely observe these poll results, and utilise the key trends to strengthen their crusade for a tobacco-free India.”