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Challenging Ties between State and Tobacco Industry: Advocacy Lessons from India

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Author(s): Upendra Bhojani | Vidya Venkataraman | Bheemaray Manganawar

Journal: Health Promotion Perspectives
ISSN 2228-6497

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 102;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Tobacco industry | Advocacy | Conflict of interests | India

ABSTRACT
Background: Globally, tobacco use is a major public health concern given its huge morbidity and mortality burden that is inequitably high in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Or¬ganization has suggested banning the advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of to¬bacco. However, governments in some countries, including India, are ei¬ther directly engaged in tobacco industry oper-ations or have a mandate to promote tobacco industry development. This paper analyses a short-term advocacy campaign that chal¬lenged the state-tobacco industry ties to draw lessons for effective public health advocacy.Method: This paper uses a case study method to analyze advocacy efforts in India to thwart the state-tobacco industry partnership: the Indian gov¬ernment’s sponsorship and support to a global tobacco industry event. The paper explores multiple strategies employed in the five-month advo¬cacy campaign (May to October 2010) to chal¬lenge this state-industry tie. In doing so, we describe the challenges faced and the lessons learnt for effective advocacy.Results: Government withdrew participation and financial sponsor¬ship from the tobacco industry event. Use of multiple strategies in¬cluding en¬gaging all concerned government agencies from the be¬ginning, strategic use of media, presence and mobilization of civil society, and use of legal tools to gain information and judicial action, were complementary in bringing desired outcomes.Conclusion: Use of multiple and complementary advocacy strate¬gies could lead to positive outcomes in a short-time campaign. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control could form an impor¬tant advocacy tool, especially in countries that have ratified it, to advocate for im¬provements in national tobacco control regulations.
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