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Exposure to ads & smoking in films led to increase in smoking among adolescents: Nadda

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NEW DELHI: Various studies conducted over the past decade on advertising, marketing and depiction in Bollywood films has had a significant effect on adolescents taking to use of tobacco.

Health Minister JP Nadda cited various studies in Parliament that show increase of tobacco use among adolescents aged between 12 to 16 years not only because of Bollywood films, but also because of advertisements of tobacco products on cricket grounds during important series between India and other countries.

A study done between 2009 and 2012 showed that 59 movies contained 412 tobacco use occurrences. The prevalence of ever tobacco use among adolescents was 5.3 per cent. Compared with low-exposure adolescents, the adjusted odds of ever tobacco use among high-exposure adolescents and being receptive to tobacco promotions was also associated with higher adjusted odds of ever tobacco use.

A cross-sectional sample of 3956 adolescents (eighth and ninth grades, ages 12–16 years) from 12 randomly selected New Delhi schools were taken for the survey, assessing tobacco use status, receptivity to tobacco promotions (based on owning or being willing to wear tobacco-branded merchandise) and exposure to tobacco use in movies.

A 10-city survey of over 9,000 students between the ages of 13 and 17 showed that after seeing the Wills World cup Cricket Series, 13 per cent felt a desire to smoke. The survey also showed that 72 per cent thought that there was at least one smoker on the Indian cricket team, which played in the 1996 World Cup.

A previous study published in the British Medical Journal, showed similar results. It concluded that cigarette company sponsorship of the India-New Zealand cricket series in 1995 had a significant impact on kids, who watched it on television. The advertising created the impression among the 1,948 children aged 13-16 years, who participated in the survey, that “smoking gives more strength, improves batting and fielding and ultimately increases the chance of winning.”

There are independent studies that have been conducted to determine the impact of advertising and promotion of tobacco products on the consumption of these products by Indians, the Minister said. Evidence suggests that exposure to promotional activities for tobacco leads to initiation and progression of tobacco use. Research also corroborates that exposure to tobacco advertisements and receptivity to tobacco marketing are significantly related to increased tobacco use among students.

Nadda also quoted other studies related to advertising of tobacco products and said that according to the Report of the Tobacco Control in India (2004), tobacco advertising, in direct or indirect form, boosts consumption.

Section 5 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003(COTPA, 2003), prohibits all direct and indirect advertisements of the tobacco products. The prohibition also extends to any activity that promotes the use or consumption of cigarettes or any other tobacco products.

The advertisement of Pan Masala is regulated by Section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, issued under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which states that every package of Pan Masala and advertisement relating thereto, shall carry the warning, “Chewing of Pan Masala is injurious to health.” 

Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations 2011 issued under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), lays down that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products. Therefore, Gutkha is a prohibited product under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations 2011 under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and hence its advertisement is also prohibited.

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