November 14 is the birthday anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru popularly called as ‘Chacha Nehru’ by children because of his love and affection towards them. This November the Ministry of Health & Family welfare has taken another landmark step to protect the youth and the children from getting hooked to the tobacco addiction by notifying the rules the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) [second amendment rules] 2011.
India has the largest film producing industry and films have played a key role in process of social change and in influencing the Indian culture. Young people watch others, especially those they admire, and emulate their behaviour. Movies offer not only world-famous stars but also a fantasized view of life. Insofar as adolescents hope to take part in the glamorous and exciting lifestyles depicted in movies, they may adopt the behaviours they see in them. Thus, for the tobacco industry, films provide an opportunity to convert a deadly product into a status symbol or token of independence.
Globally the tobacco industry has spent millions of dollars to maintain the portrayal of tobacco in movies. The role of movies as vehicles for promoting tobacco use has become even more important as other forms of tobacco promotion are constrained. This investment is part of a wider and more complex marketing strategy to support pro-tobacco social norms, including product placement in mass media, sponsorship and other modalities.
There are experimental and observational studies to show that tobacco use in films influences young people’s beliefs about social norms for smoking, as well as their beliefs about the function and consequences of smoking and their personal intention to use tobacco..
Consistent with the findings of these epidemiological studies, a number of experimental studies have confirmed that seeing tobacco usage in film shifts attitude in favour of tobacco use , and that an anti-tobacco advertisement shown prior to a film with tobacco use blunts the effect of smoking imagery.
The Government of India has enacted the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, in 2003 with the objective to protect the present and future generation from the adverse harm effects of tobacco usage and second hand smoke, through imposing progressive restriction.
As per Section - 5 of the Act, all forms of advertisement (direct, indirect/surrogate) promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products is prohibited. However, it was observed that when the advertising, promotion and sponsorship ban went into force, tobacco companies developed new marketing strategies to circumvent the law through depiction of tobacco use scenes and brand placement of tobacco products in movies.
In 2003 WHO conducted a study on the portrayal of tobacco in Indian cinema and its impact on youth audience before the passage of the COTPA. Further in 2004 (post COTPA ), a second study titled on “Tobacco In Movies and Impact on Youth” documented changes in Bollywood’s tobacco imagery. This research found the following:
Key Findings WHO study (2003) Study by Burning Brain Society supported by WHO/MoH (2005)
Total tobacco containing movies 76% 89% .
Lead character smoking* 40.9% 75.5%
Tobacco brands/product placement and visibility 15.7% 41.0%
Hence in 2005, the COTPA’s rules were refined to meet the challenge of tobacco use and brand placement in the movies. However the same was challenged by a lead Bollywood producer.
The Ministry has now notified the revised Rules vide G.S.R 786 dated 27th October, 2011. These Rules have been framed after intense consultation and taking into account the views of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to make is more practical and implementable. These rules will be implemented from 14th November, 2011.
As per the Rules all the old movies and TV programmes i.e. produced before the 14th November displaying tobacco products or its use shall have to mandatorily display
(a) anti-tobacco health spots or messages, of minimum thirty seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the film or the television programme;
(b) anti-tobacco health warning as a prominent scroll at the bottom of the screen during the period of such display:
And such programmes will be tele-casted at such timings that are likely to have least viewership of minors.
For new films and TV programme a strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products or their use shall be given to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with UA certification, and it will be accompanied by the following
a) a disclaimer, of minimum twenty seconds duration, by the concerned actor regarding the ill effects of the use of such products, in the beginning and middle of the film or television programme;
b) anti-tobacco health spots or messages, of minimum thirty seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the film or the television programme;
c) anti-tobacco health warning as a prominent scroll at the bottom of the screen during the period of such display:
There will be a representative of MoHFW in the CBFC.
In order to restrict blatant display of tobacco brands in old films and TV programmes these rules make it mandatory to crop /mask display of brands of cigarettes or any other tobacco product or any forms of product placement, closeups and for new films and TV programmes such scenes shall be edited/blurred by the producer prior to screening. The ban on display of tobacco product or its usage also extends to promotional materials and posters as well.
“Tobacco is a major risk factor for the Non-Communicable Disease burden in our country, these Rules will go a long way in protecting the youth from un-necessary exposure to tobacco promotion through films and TV programmes”
Keshav Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Health.