Nearly 22 per cent of television programmes in India depict tobacco use and 71 per cent of these were broadcast when children and adolescents may have been watching even as an estimated one million deaths in the country are linked to tobacco, a government study has found.
Nearly 22 per cent of television programmes in India depict tobacco use and 71 per cent of these were broadcast when children and adolescents may have been watching even as an estimated one million deaths in the country are linked to tobacco, a government study has found. Noting that the implementation of the ‘Film Rules’ was “very low” in television, the study has recommended strengthening enforcement of the rule by putting across guidelines for the Censor Board and enforcement officials enlisting the key elements to look into for certifying films.
The study said that while 99 per cent of films with tobacco scenes implemented at least one of the three elements of the Film Rules, only 27 per cent implemented all three elements fully in the approved manner and asserted that if properly implemented, these anti-tobacco warning messages are effective in even prompting decisions to quit tobacco.
The Film Rules under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) mandate three forms of warning messages (anti-tobacco health spots, audio-visual disclaimers and static health warning messages) during broadcast of tobacco products in films and television programmes.
“During the study period, 22 per cent of TV programmes were found to depict tobacco. Worryingly, 71 per cent of these programmes were broadcast when children and adolescents may have been watching. Implementation of the Film Rule on TV was found to be very low.
“Only 4 per cent 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 said.
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The study titled ‘Evaluation of Tobacco Free Film and Television Policy in India’ was conducted by Vital Strategies with support from WHO Country Office for India under the guidance of Health Ministry to evaluate the implementation of the Film Rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA).
“Tobacco use is detrimental to all aspects of life, and grips users in the most productive years. We must reverse this tide. An effective way of tobacco control would be to ingrain and indoctrinate the young minds, the children and the youth.
“If they could be weaned away from tobacco use, we believe that the battle is half won, since the children and youth of today will be the policy and lawmakers of tomorrow,” Union Health secretary C K Mishra said while speaking at a national consultation on ‘Implementation of the Tobacco-Free Film Rules in Theatres and Television programmes.
Tobacco use currently causes over five million deaths annually worldwide and these deaths are expected to rise to over eight million yearly by 2030 globally. India is home to the second largest number of tobacco consumers in the world and it is estimated that one million deaths can be attributed to tobacco use in the country.