Odisha’s Tobacco Control Achievements: Progress, Gaps & The Path Forward

By Dr Nancy Satpathy & Dr Muhammad Imran Ali


As the globe marks World No Tobacco Day today, Odisha shines as a beacon of exemplary efforts in tobacco control. The state’s proactive measures have garnered recognition through the esteemed World No Tobacco Day Award from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the South-East Asian region. This accolade underscores Odisha’s remarkable strides in implementing effective tobacco control strategies. Throughout the past year to the present, the Government of Odisha has implemented various initiatives aimed at curbing tobacco use and promoting public health.

Analysing tobacco use trends across India involves a comparison of data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) and the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS). Notably, GATS data for Odisha showcases substantial progress, with a 3.3 percentage point decline in adult smoking prevalence from GATS 1 (2009-2010) to GATS 2 (2016-2017). This decline reflects the positive impact of anti-smoking initiatives. Similarly, among individuals aged 15-17 years, the prevalence of tobacco use reduced from 16.3% to 11.3%, indicating the effectiveness of targeted youth programs and interventions within schools. Additionally, the mean age of tobacco use initiation rose, signifying delayed onset due to preventive measures.

Corroborating these advancements, GYTS data for India reveals a noteworthy 7.9 percentage point decrease in current tobacco product use among students between 2006 and 2019, plummeting from 14.1% to 6.2%. Moreover, the prevalence of students currently smoking any tobacco decreased by 2.6 percentage points, with a substantial 5.7 percentage point decline observed in current smokeless tobacco use among students. Although gender disparities persist, the gap has progressively narrowed over time.

In the time spanning World No Tobacco Day last year to today, Odisha has demonstrated noteworthy advancements in tobacco control, showcasing substantial progress across various initiatives directed at reducing tobacco usage and bolstering public health. Among Odisha’s notable achievements in tobacco control is the complete ban on tobacco-related products like ‘paan’ and ‘gutka’ at Puri’s Jagannath Temple premises, effective since January 1, 2024. This proactive step aims to preserve the temple’s sanctity and foster a healthier environment for devotees and visitors. Another significant milestone occurred on March 20, 2024, when the Commissionerate Police led a comprehensive search at Jharpada jail in Bhubaneswar post a group clash among inmates, targeting contraband items, including tobacco products. Despite mostly clean areas, small quantities of contraband were seized, showcasing the state’s resolve for contraband-free correctional facilities.

Moreover, Odisha’s Tobacco Free Youth Campaign 2023 achieved national acclaim by securing the top position in the country, marking 54 Panchayats as tobacco-free, with ongoing efforts in 114 more Gram Panchayats. However, challenges persist in curbing tobacco use, as highlighted by a study published in Cureusa Springer Nature Journal (DOI: 10.7759/cureus.51206). The study revealed significant non-compliance with health warning regulations around educational institutions in Bhubaneswar, including the presence of numerous tobacco vendors near schools and instances of smoking and sales to and by minors.

In addition to these challenges, Odisha faces issues with the impact of bans and regulations. For instance, despite legal steps taken in 2013 to ban gutkha in the state, there has been low impact on its prevalence. Furthermore, the rising number of hookah bars across different cities in the state poses a concern, particularly regarding their targeting of teenagers and youths. These establishments often operate outside legal provisions and may lead to various health issues among young individuals if not addressed promptly. Another issue contributing to tobacco use is the surrogate advertisement of tobacco products, particularly under the guise of Pan Masala, which is prevalent in various places across Odisha. Youth icons serving as brand ambassadors for such products and the widespread presence of these advertisements on large hoardings raise concerns about their influence on public health.

While Odisha’s recognition and achievements in tobacco control are commendable, the identified gaps necessitate continued efforts. Enhanced enforcement of COTPA provisions, particularly around educational institutions, coupled with regular inspections and strict penalties for non-compliance, is imperative. Public awareness campaigns on the hazards of tobacco use and compliance with health warnings can significantly contribute to reducing consumption. Involving community leaders and expanding access to cessation support services are pivotal steps toward realising a tobacco-free future in Odisha and setting a benchmark for tobacco control initiatives nationwide.


( Dr Nancy Satpathy is a PhD scholar at Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan University, Bhubaneswar & ICMR- Research Associate &

Dr Muhammad Imran Ali is the Managing Director of Salaam Jeevan & a de-addiction activist).

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