World No Tobacco Day: Govt bans tobacco promotion on OTT; notifies rules

On the occasion of World Tobacco Day the Union Health Ministry has notified new rules that mandate audio-visual warning in OTT content

Puri: Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates a sand sculpture on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, at Puri beach, Monday, May 30, 2022. (PTI Photo)

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday notified new rules called the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2023 to regulate anti-tobacco warnings on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. According to the notification, the OTT Platforms will have to carry anti-tobacco warning messages at the beginning as well as in the middle of the programme.

The notification mandates that every publisher of online content displaying tobacco products on their use shall "display anti-tobacco health warnings, of minimum thirty seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the programme."

It further mandates that the publisher should "display anti-tobacco health warnings as a prominent static message at the bottom of the screen during the period of display of tobacco products their use in the programme."

The notification also requires the publisher of the online curated content to "display an audio-visual disclaimer on the ill-effects of tobacco use, of minimum twenty seconds duration each, in the beginning, and middle of the programme."

According to the notification, the health spots, message and disclaimer will be available on the official health ministry website.  

The new rules also bar the display or promotion of any brand of cigarettes or other tobacco products or any form of tobacco product placement.

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The rules shall come into force within the next three months.

In case the publisher of online content fails to comply with new rules, the Union Health Ministry and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting can take suo moto action against them.

The new rules come on the occasion of 'World No Tobacco Day' which is observed on May 31 every year.

The member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) agreed in 1987 to observe May 31 as World No Tobacco Day every year to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

This year the WHO has set the theme as "Grow food, not tobacco" to raise awareness about how growing tobacco harms the health of farmers and the planet’s health.

The campaign draws attention to how the tobacco industry attempts to substitute tobacco growing and thus aggravating the global food crisis. And encourages governments to end tobacco growing subsidies and use the savings to support farmers to switch to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. 

First Published: May 31 2023 | 1:01 PM IST

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