Very important Methods launches digital crowdsourcing device to supervise tobacco advertising in India
With more than 267 million tobacco consumers in India, a new digital platform, the Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement (TERM) of the global health organization Vital Strategies, was launched to provide a digital tool for regular monitoring and tracking of tobacco marketing via online conversations, messages, Social media and media coverage. According to an official press release, the tobacco industry spends millions of dollars each year on marketing to increase tobacco use, especially among youth.
“As COVID-19 underscores the tobacco threat in India, TERM’s unique monitoring and crowdsourcing capabilities will enable governments and health authorities to understand the extent of tobacco marketing and take measured steps to respond,” the said Company statement. In May 2021, over 850 tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorship (TAPS) cases were reported online.
Vaishakhi Mallik, Associate Director, South Asia, said, “Tobacco kills nearly one in two users, but to date advertising, promotions and sponsorship are normalizing tobacco. With the advent of social media and digital marketing, India’s youth is worryingly a lucrative market for the tobacco industry .TERM empowers the public to counter industry efforts and protect youth by raising awareness of illegal or predatory marketing. For the first time, government agencies and civil society are given actionable insights into substitute advertising and other tobacco advertising and give them a novel source of data on TAPS – Prosecute instances and hold industry accountable. ” TERM enables the public to become aware of the tobacco companies’ marketing and advertising tactics while reporting such cases through the ongoing Facebook campaign.
The platform also provides governments with information highlighting the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics that are hindering tobacco control efforts, as well as information on how to enforce TAPS compliance. Dr. Rana J Singh, Assistant Regional Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said, “We congratulate Vital Strategies on this first resource of its kind to track online marketing incidents from Tobacco Union and many of our partners to investigate the loopholes exploited and manipulated by the tobacco industry. This, in turn, will support our efforts to strengthen and enforce tobacco control measures and help policy makers with evidence-based evidence of surrogacy and indirect advertising. Such evidence gives credibility to tobacco control programs, which can then enable policy action, stakeholder engagement, and greater enforcement towards a tobacco-free India. “
TERM was started in 2019 as a Facebook campaign page and expanded into a digital crowdsourcing tool with situation reports. These reports categorize cases of tobacco marketing based on their volume, the state in which they occur, the news content, and the channel. A total of 222 marketing instances were logged from January to May 2021.
“Of the total observed marketing on social media platforms, 48 percent was on Facebook, 34 percent on Instagram, 13 percent on Twitter, 4 percent on YouTube and 1 percent on news sites,” it said. It also states that the marketing cases were reported from West Bengal (54 percent), followed by Uttar Pradesh (32 percent), Rajasthan (10 percent), Maharashtra (3 percent) and Karnataka (2 percent).
In May, 62 percent of marketing cases related to smoking tobacco products and 38 percent related to smokeless tobacco products. (ANI)