Indian Govt.'s Gift on World No Tobacco Day
India becomes the first country to ban on-screen smoking
Govt’s Doctor plays The Cigarette Censor
Ramadoss: India becomes first country to ban smoking/cigarettes on screen; says foreign movies need blurring
Posted online: Wednesday, June 01, 2005 at 0000 hours IST
NEW DELHI, MAY 31: The next time you see smoke on celluloid, it won’t be coming from a cigarette or a chillum — no dum maro songs anymore. In a bizarre order, the Union Health Ministry has issued directives banning all smoking scenes in films as well as on television. The government has also banned showing cigarette packs, hoardings or even using any item with a cigarette brand name on it in films.
With these stringent rules, India becomes the first country to ban smoking on screen. Films that have already been shot and include shots of people smoking, will need to a run a scroll at the bottom of the screen, warning of the hazards of smoking.
‘‘We are giving them two months but no such scenes will be allowed after that,’’ said Bhavani Thayagarajan, joint secretary, Ministry of Health, announcing the new measures.
The law also applies to foreign films or old films being re-released or shown on television. Distributors and television channels will be required to blur the screen each time an actor lights up or a cigarette brand makes a guest appearance. The horizontal warning scroll also becomes mandatory.
Ministry officials said they took these steps after a recent WHO study ‘‘held Bollywood responsible for glamourising smoking’’. ‘‘Film actors have a lasting impact on the minds of children and young adults,’’ pointed out Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, Union health minister. ‘‘There are reports that more women and children are smoking these days,’’ he added.
To be effective from August 1, 2005, the order has been notified on the occasion of World No-Tobacco Day today. It is part of a Health Ministry initiative to give more teeth to anti-smoking laws. For instance, smoking is officially banned in public places in the capital, but that doesn’t stop hard smokers puffing away with impunity.
Today’s order also cracks down on ‘‘surrogate advertising’’ — defined as all kind of indirect references to a tobacco brand name. ‘‘Nobody can constitute awards in the name of cigrette brands, even the cigrette brands appearing on Formula 1 cars will have to be removed,’’ said Thyagaragan.
How sportscasters showing F-1 races will tackle this is unclear. The status of promotional events such as the Red and White Bravery Awards also comes under a cloud. A high-level screening committee has been set up to look into established brand extensions — such as Wills clothing.
Following violations in terms of cigarette advertising at the point of sale, the government has banned illumination of advertising boards as well as reduced the size of the boards. ‘‘The shopkeepers can just name the particular brands. No pictoral depiction will be allowed,’’ announced the ministry.
In order to make cigarettes inaccessible to minors, the government has even prohibited the sale of cigarettes through vending machines. ‘‘In a few months,’’ said Dr Ramadoss, ‘‘there will be pictorial warning regarding the harmful effects on the cigarette packs.’’
Here are a few more stats:
India signatory to WHO’s Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control, ratified on Feb 27,’05
Srinath Reddy, WHO consultant on anti-smoking:
• India is first country to ban smoking on cinema screen
• Takes lead in banning sale of cigarettes to minors
• South Africa, Thailand are the only other developing countries with anti-smoking laws
• US opposed to a ban on smoking in films on the grounds of freedom of expression
• Japan wants to retains cigarette sale through vending machines
Earnest Request to all smokers - Quit Tobacco for a Healthier World