Regulating promotion of tobacco through films - a pioneering endeavor of India
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Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, National Tobacco Control Cell, India
International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Tobacco Control, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A470
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Cinema influences children of young impressionable mind. A LANCET publication revealed that viewing smoking scenes in movies promotes smoking initiation among adolescent. The findings indicated that the effect of exposure to movie smoking was stronger on the adolescent than parental smoking.
The Government of India and the WHO supported study on “tobacco in movies and impact on youth” also revealed that after the ban on all forms of Tobacco Advertisement Promotion and Sponsorship in 2003, by India there was nearly 50% increase in smoking scene by lead character and more than 50% increase in tobacco products/brands placement.
Considering the influence of movies on youths in India, the Government of India in 2005, banned the depiction tobacco usage in Films.
Subsequently, The Tobacco-free Film Rules were legally challenged by the film industry for alleged violation of freedom of speech and expression. There was also difference of opinion between the Health Ministry and Information & Broadcasting Ministry. This resulted in deferment in implementation of Rules.

Intervention or response:
The two Ministries through inter-ministerial consultations reached on an agreement have an effective law to curb TAPS through films. The Government of India also responded strongly while defending the new warnings in the court cases.
Finally with the intervention of the Supreme Court of India the Film Rules in its modified form were implemented from 2nd October 2012.

Results and lessons learnt:
The Film rules mandate that to depict tobacco product or its usage in any film, an editorial justification will be given by the producer explaining the necessity of such scenes.
Also a anti-tobacco disclaimer and health spots in the beginning and middle of the films and display of anti-tobacco health message during such scenes have been made mandatory.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Through strong political commitment and coordinated advocacy and legal efforts, its is possible to restrict depiction of tobacco use in films.

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