Sunday January 19, 2020
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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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Here’s How Fitbit Smartwatch May Help You Predict Flu in Real-Time

The authors identify several limitations in their study

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Fitbit
Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate. Pixabay

In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users.

Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate.

Influenza results in 650,000 deaths worldwide annually. And approximately 7 per cent of working adults and 20 per cent of children aged under five years get flu each year.

“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level,” said study author Dr Jennifer Radin from Scripps Research Translational Institute.

The researchers reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users who wore a Fitbit wearable device that tracks users’ activity, heart rate and sleep for at least 60 days during the study time.

fitbit
In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users. Pixabay

From the 200,000, 47,248 users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania wore a Fitbit device consistently during the study period, resulting in a total of 13,342,651 daily measurements evaluated.

The average user was 43 years old and 60 per cent were female.

De-identified data from the users retrospectively identified weeks with elevated resting heart rate and changes to routine sleep, said the research published in The Lancet Digital Health journal.

“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said Radin.

This data was compared to weekly estimates for influenza-like illness rates reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time.

With greater volumes of data it may be possible to apply the method to more geographically refined areas, such as county or city-level.

The authors identify several limitations in their study.

Weekly resting heart rate averages may include days when an individual is both sick and not sick, and this may result in underestimation of illness by lowering the weekly averages.

Fitbit
This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time. Pixabay

Other factors may also increase resting heart rate, including stress or other infections.

ALSO READ: Most Advanced Radiation Therapy For Cancer Patients Arrives in India

Lastly, the authors noted that previous studies of sleep measuring devices have been found to have low accuracy, though they said that accuracy will continue to improve as technology evolves. (IANS)