Tuesday July 16, 2019
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75 % of cigarettes sold loose in India: Study

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Shimla: Nearly 75 percent of all cigarettes in India are sold as single sticks valued at close to 30 percent of the Rs.35,000 crore (over $5 billion) Indian market, an international journal says. The sale of single cigarettes, which is not in the interest of public health, is an important factor for early experimentation, initiation and persistence of tobacco use, says the study.

“Based on the data collected from 10 jurisdictions, we estimate that nearly 75 percent (59-87 percent) of all cigarettes are sold as single sticks,” says the study, published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. The study was conducted under the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease across 10 cities – Agartala, Baroda, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Indore, Jaipur, Jorhat, Patna and Shimla. It recommends that the Indian government ban the sale of single cigarettes and eliminate “kiddy packs”. (The ban does exist but is observed more in breach than in practice.)

Under the tobacco control legislation in India, each tobacco product has to bear a specified pictorial health warning. But the single cigarette sales defy the overall purpose.The single cigarette sale is a win-win game for the tobacco industry, but not in the interest of public health,” said Kumar, a consultant with the World Health Organization’s tuberculosis programme and based in Shimla. It says single or loose cigarettes also promote the sale of illicit cigarettes and neutralise the effect of pack warnings and effective taxation, making tobacco more accessible and affordable to minors.

This is the first study to have estimated the size of the country’s single stick market.The survey was conducted in February 2014 by 10 authors to estimate the sale of cigarettes in packs and sticks, by brands and price over a full business day. Smoking of cigarettes, bidis and other smoked forms of tobacco are the single largest cause of preventable death among adults in India with more than 1.2 million dying annually.

The study says singles are preferred by smokers as it helps to conceal their habit since it is largely unacceptable publicly in India.The singles also give vendors a perverse incentive to extract extra margins. For cigarette companies, singles make it easier to promote new brands and conduct market research on customers at the point of sale.

Vendor interviews reveal that the high volumes of singles sale in the premium segment is experimentation of new and existing users, who aspire to become regular smokers of these cigarettes, which are currently smoked occasionally by them, says the study. Goa among all jurisdictions has the lowest proportion of single cigarette sales and higher pack sales.

It finds that in effect a single cigarette market neutralises four important tobacco control strategies – protecting minors, pictorial warnings, support quitting and effective taxation. According to it, students are vulnerable to an early initiation of tobacco use. An easy affordability of loose cigarettes is an enabling factor for the students and minors. The study establishes that taxes can be raised from 15 percent to 32 percent (depending upon the segment) till such time as single stick price and pack price variance is zero or diminished.

(IANS)

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Massive Displacement in DR Congo’s Ebola-Affected Ituri Province Poses Serious Health Hazard

At least 160 people were killed during renewed clashes early last month between Lendu farmers and Hema herders

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FILE - A woman and her children wait to receive Ebola vaccinations, in the village of Mabalako, in eastern Congo Monday, June 17, 2019. VOA

The International Organization for Migration warns massive displacement from renewed inter-ethnic fighting in DR Congo’s Ebola-affected Ituri province poses a serious health hazard.

At least 160 people were killed during renewed clashes early last month between Lendu farmers and Hema herders in Ituri province.  U.N. agencies report the violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent more than 7,500 refugees fleeing for their lives into neighboring Uganda.

The International Organization for Migration reports people who have fled the frontline of the conflict are living in abysmal conditions that create a fertile ground for the spread of disease, most worryingly Ebola.

The latest World Health Organization figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2,382, including 1,606 deaths.  The bulk of these cases and deaths are in conflict-ridden North Kivu province   About 10 percent are in Ituri.

DR Congo, Ebola, Health
The International Organization for Migration warns massive displacement from renewed inter-ethnic fighting. Pixabay

The inter-communal fighting has displaced an estimated 400,000 people.  IOM spokesman, Joel Millman, says his agency manages 12 displacement sites in Ituri’s Djugu Territory.  Thousands of people unable to cram into these overcrowded camps, he says, are sheltering in spontaneous sites.

“Poor hygiene conditions in displacement sites severely increase the risk that Ebola, as well as cholera, measles and acute respiratory diseases, will spread,” Millman said. “Many of these people are seeking assistance in Ebola-affected Bunia, where the displacement site officially called “General Hospital Site” has received more than 5,000 new Internally Displaced Persons, increasing the site’s population to 10,000 or twice its capacity.”

Millman says plans are underway to relocate many of the IDPs to a new improved settlement on land owned by Bunia’s Catholic Diocese.

He says IOM also is reinforcing its Ebola surveillance and disease prevention activities at Ituri’s Points of Entry at International borders.  Measures include hand washing, hygiene promotion, and screening travelers for possible Ebola infections.

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On June 11, the first case of Ebola spread across the border from DRC to Uganda.  A five-year old boy and his grandmother subsequently died from the deadly virus.

Millman says IOM is working to reduce disease transmission to new areas and across borders by expanding its preparedness measures to include Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi. (VOA)