Health Ministry urges to monitor TV programmes displaying use of tobacco products
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 11-Feb-2017

New Delhi, February 11: It has been observed that the television programmes have been breaking the film rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), now the mechanism will be setup to monitor the televised programmes that display the use of tobacco products.

"We are working with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to tackle the problem. We have convened meetings with the Ministry and are working together for effective enforcement of the laws," said CK Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Health Ministry has urged the CBFC to develop clear guidelines and check the list of all the elements of film rules.

"The enforcement officials enlisting the key elements may look into the checklist while certifying films and identifying the scenes that glamorize tobacco use," said Mishra.

Union Health Ministry commissioned a study titled Evaluations of Tobacco Free Film and Television Policy in India and it was conducted by Vital Strategies with support from World Health Organisation India. It found that only 27% of the films implement all the elements under film rules under COTPA, in the approved manner.

The Rule was implemented in 2012, and mandates that three forms of warning messages (anti-tobacco health spots, audio-visual disclaimers and static health warning messages) are broadcast when tobacco products, branding or use are shown in films and television programmes. Implementation of the film rules on TV was found to be very low.

During the study period, 22% of TV programmes were found to depict tobacco. The worrying trend is that 71% of these programmes were broadcast when children and adolescents may have been watching. Only 4% of these programmes implemented at least two of the three elements of the rules and none carried both of the government approved anti-tobacco spots (Child and Dhuan). Static health messages were most likely to be shown, but these were also not implemented fully as per rules.

The study observed a number of gaps in the implementation of the rules in both theatres and on television programmes, including the incorrect and incomplete use and presentation of the government approved warnings i.e., both the anti-tobacco health spots as well as the audio-visual disclaimer on ill effects of tobacco use.

"The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars to mislead consumers by depicting tobacco use as glamorous or popular. When tobacco is depicted in films and TV programmes, it helps the tobacco industry to grow. Tobacco kills one million Indians every year and costs our economy $22.4 billion. We urge the TV and film industry to recognize its responsibilities and work towards a tobacco-free culture," Dr Nandita Murukutla, Country Director, Vital Strategies said.