INTRODUCTION The Government of India has taken several steps to reduce tobacco use, including legislation in the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) requiring health warnings on tobacco products. This study assessed compliance with the legislation on warnings, and awareness of these warnings and their perceived impact in preventing tobacco uptake among college students in a district of Karnataka, India. METHODS This study consisted of two components, pack collection and a survey. For the first, tobacco packs were obtained from all tobacco selling shops in an urban and a rural locality in the Karkala block of Udupi district. Empty cigarette packs were collected from shops, and full packs were purchased if empty packs were not available . The packs were collected to measure their dimensions, as per the Tobacco Pack Surveillance System guidelines, and assessed for compliance, as per COTPA. For the second component of the study, a questionnaire was distributed to each college student to fill in; this was done to assess awareness of the new warnings at the time of the pilot survey, knowledge of harms, and perceptions of the warnings in reducing tobacco uptake. RESULTS We collected 26 tobacco packs. Two (8%) packs had warnings that were the correct size (85% of the main display areas), 15 (58%) packs had clear and legible warnings, and 18 (69%) packs had warning messages in the appropriate language. In the student survey, 60% of males and 52% of females indicated that they would not start using any tobacco products on seeing the new warnings. CONCLUSIONS Only a few studies other than our pilot study have assessed compliance with legislation on health warnings in low- or middle-income countries. Although health warnings were perceived as a deterrent to tobacco use among students, compliance with national legislation in this pilot study was found to be low.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health