CBSE schools will not allow their students to participate in any competition sponsored by any firm that promotes the use of tobacco in any form.
In its latest circular (dna has a copy), CBSE has directed its schools against any tie-up with tobacco firms. The circular reads: "It has come to the notice of the board that some tobacco-promoting firms are finding some innovative ways of being involved with schoolchildren. It is, therefore, strongly advised that no school affiliated to CBSE is permitted to allow its students to participate in events sponsored by any firm or a subsidiary of a firm which promotes the use of tobacco in any form."
Schools or students should not accept any prize or scholarship instituted by such firms. Also, using brand names, emblems, trademark, logo or trade insignia or any other distinct feature directly/indirectly connected with tobacco products should be discouraged.
CBSE has asked schools to put up posters at prominent places detailing the ill effects of using tobacco. The board has asked principals and school heads to download a copy of the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, from the health ministry's website.
CBSE swung into action after being rapped by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution in May for organising Classmate Spell Bee 2014, an inter-school spelling competition, with ITC Limited as a sponsor.
In its letter, the ministry said: "Classmate is a leading educational stationery brand and it appears that use of logo of ITC is in direct contravention of Section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act," said Kesav Desiraju, secretary, mnistry of consumer affairs. "There also appears to be a technical violation of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, as it constitutes an unethical trade practice."
"ITC is India's leading cigarette manufacturer and 80% of their profits still come from sale of cigarettes. ITC has strategically entered into manufacturing FMCG used by kids and youth such as wafers, biscuits, chocolates, noodles, stationery, perfumes, and apparels. By retaining the ITC logo, Spell Bee becomes a surrogate advertiser for the company," said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, oncosurgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel.
An ITC spokesperson said: "ITC is a multi-business enterprise with interests in FMCG, hotels, paper and paperboards, agri-business and information technology. Classmate is India's leading stationery brand and has nothing to do with tobacco."