Ever thought that a 13-year-old could help shut down a cigarette shop near his school? Thanks to the Android app ‘Children Against Tobacco’, this is a distinct possibility in the future. The brainchild of S Cyril Alexander, State Convenor, Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control, the app will help map tobacco vendors within 100 metres of an educational institution.
Free for public download, all you need to do is register your name, mobile number and email address, and also fill out details of the vendor. “Once a member of the public alerts us about a tobacco-selling vendor within this proximity, we will collect further evidence with photos and so on, as well as details of other such vendors in the area and then file a comprehensive complaint with the State Tobacco Control Cell,” Cyril explained.
This is in accordance with the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003, which includes in its provisions: ‘Tobacco products cannot be sold to a person below the age of 18 years, and in places within a 100 metres radius from the outer boundary of an institution of education’. Although their focus is on schools at the moment, “The Act covers all educational institutions. So that means colleges and even tuition centres that provide signage are recognised establishments of study,” said Cyril, who has roped in assistance from his NGO Mary Anne Charity Trust.
How does it work?
- Download the app ‘Children Against Tobacco’
- Fill form with name of school, address, vendor name, type (tea shop, newsmart, provisional store)
- Once alerted, volunteers will gather info and photo evidence to lodge a plaint wi-th State Tobacco Control Cell
A volunteer said that over 40 city schools have been mapped so far, with plans to expand. “Next, we will start mapping vendors around schools in districts like Pudukottai, Tirunelveli, Tirupur and Dindigul,” she added. Plans are also afoot to sensitise school principals and train them to take action against perpetrators.