Promotion of public health by advocating for enactment and enforcement of appropriate laws and health policy reforms has been one of the primary of HRIDAY. We consider law an important tool in public health for promoting and protecting public health objectives. In particular, HRIDAY advocated for enactment of a comprehensive tobacco control law and since the coming into force of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA) for its effective enforcement across the country.
The legal team at HRIDAY, while working closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has effectively contributed in strengthening regulations under COTPA for advancing tobacco control in the country. Lawyers from HRIDAY have also supported legal action initiated by several individuals and organizations committed to tobacco control at all administrative and judicial levels.
HRIDAY extended its legal assistance to several State Governments in their legal battles against the tobacco industry in various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. In dealing with legislative, administrative and judicial aspects of tobacco control, numerous NGOs approached HRIDAY with a request to guide and assist in initiating legal actions including public interest litigations to ensure compliance with the provisions of COTPA in the country.
Some of the key accomplishments include:
- Providing legal assistance to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for
- Comprehensive smokefree regulations from October 2, 2008
- Stronger pictorial warnings notified for all tobacco products from December 1, 2011.
- Prohibition on depiction of tobacco use in films and television from November 14th, 2011.
- Notification of enforcement officer to implement Section 6 of COTPA.
- Development of guidelines for effective implementation of Section 6 and Section 7 of COTPA.
- Review of Operational Guidelines for National Tobacco Control Programme implementation.
- Building capacity of NGOs and Law Enforcement Officers in implementation of tobacco control laws
- Supporting tobacco control advocacy efforts through legal research on various tobacco control issues including, smokefree laws, tobacco advertisements, pictorial warnings, tobacco taxation, illicit trade in tobacco products etc.
- Assisting State Governments to notify implementation of COTPA
- Guiding NGOs in filing cases /drafting Memorandums/ PILs / RTIs concerning laws other than and beyond COTPA (e.g., RTI Act and the Consumer Protection Act etc.)
- Collaborating with law schools in India to advance tobacco control and train young lawyers on public health law through on campus interactions and internships for law students.
- Reporting on court proceedings related to tobacco control litigations in various courts in India and assisted government and/or NGO counsels engaged in such tobacco control litigations.
- Publication of several legal knowledge resources on tobacco control for NGOs and Law Enforcement officials.
- Providing legal opinions and representing country position in discussions facilitated by international organizations like the FCA on issues related to tobacco control and FCTC implementation. In particular, lawyers at HRIDAY have contributed in the past in:
- FCTC Conference Of Parties meetings in 2007 and 2008
- The FCA Regional Meeting in Nepal in 2009
- INB meetings in 2008, 2009 and 2010
- Shadow reporting for FCA in 2010
- Webinars conducted by FCA in discussing progress of FCTC implementation around the globe
In addition, lawyers at HRIDAY also focus on other public health laws related to alcohol control, school health policies, road safety laws and policies, environmental laws and policies etc.