CLPR has engaged in research, policy advocacy and litigation in the field of tobacco control and public health since 2010. In 2015, we received the Tobacco Free Kids International Grant, to develop policy initiatives for better implementation of tobacco laws and the Framework Convention On Tobacco Control (FCTC) in India. The grant emphasises three main activities:
- Tracking the implementation of the Framework Convention On Tobacco Control (FCTC) in India.
- Writing policy briefs and op-eds on contemporary issues related tobacco control.
- Working with government and civil society groups to advocate policy reforms
In 2015-2016 our work has focussed on tracking India’s Compliance with Article 5.3 of the FCTC. This provision calls for State Parties to protect their public health policies from commercial and other vested interests. We identified three research objectives: Describing the existing legal framework for implementation of Article 5.3; Exploring the extent of governmental subsidies/financial assistance to the tobacco industry; Tracing the development of rules on tobacco advertisement and packaging. These policy advocacy efforts demonstrate the conflict of interest between government’s commitment to tobacco control and its outright support to the industry, either directly through subsidies or interaction with the tobacco industry or indirectly through its failure to implement strong packaging and advertising rules.
Describing the existing legal framework for implementation of Article 5.3
In our first report: “India’s Compliance with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: Learning from India and Abroad”, we review the legal principles that underlie Article 5.3 and describe the existing legal framework in India for its effective implementation. We analyse India’s compliance with Article 5.3, with particular reference to the recommendations under the Article 5.3 Implementation Guidelines. The report highlights the conflict of interest that is evident in the government’s continued interaction with and its preferential treatment to the tobacco industry, in direct contradiction with Article 5.3.
Associated Key Litigation:
A strong evidence of continued preferential treatment and governmental support to the tobacco industry is found in the handing out of subsidies to tobacco farming through various schemes, particularly under the Tobacco Board Act, 1975. Our second policy brief: Ending Tobacco Subsidies for Public Health traces continued governmental subsidies and financial support to the tobacco industry through the Tobacco Board Act, 1975 and recommends phasing out of subsidies in an efficient manner. We also conducted a Karnataka Level Workshop and Consultation with researchers and experts on public health and tobacco control laws. The discussion highlighted the extent of governmental support to the tobacco industry through subsidies,interest free loans and other financial assistance and the failure of the government in phasing out subsidies and exploring alternative livelihood options for tobacco growers. We have also prepared a factsheet on the extent of governmental subsidies made available to the tobacco industry through the Tobacco Board.
- CLPR Blog Post: Time to Phase Out Subsidies
- Cancer Patients Aid Association v. the State Government of Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department and Ors., W.P. 55697/2014
Advertisement and Packaging
The tobacco industry has constantly fought against any strict regulation on advertisement and packaging . Through its powerful lobby and close interactions with the government, the Industry has managed to keep the new packaging rules, mandating 85% coverage of packs with pictorial and statutory warning, under indefinite suspension. In Behind the Smokescreen and Smoking out the Elephant in the Room and ‘What’s in a Pack? Sickness, Death and the Power of a Lethal Lobby’ we write about the need to implement the new rules on pack warning and the consistent effort by the tobacco industry to introduce numerous obstacles in their implementation.
Recently, the new packaging rules have been aggressively attacked by the industry through numerous petitions, challenging the constitutional validity of the rules. Currently, all petitions, by order of the Supreme Court, are transferred and are being heard by the Karnataka High Court. CLPR is not only defending the rules but also regularly tracking and documenting the entire hearing and day-to-day submissions and reporting them on its daily blog, that is now accessed by various public health advocates around the country. In November 2016, CLPR will complete a policy brief on the development of the rules and the litigation on advertisement and packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products.