The size and popularity of India’s film industry has
the power to influence the behavior and attitude of millions of people.
The ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed the findings of a
study to evaluate the implementation of the ‘film rule’, under the
Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act. The study finds that
anti-tobacco messages are effective in countering the imagery of tobacco
and prompting decision to quit. During the study period 22% of TV
programs were found to depict tobacco. Worryingly 71% of these programs
were broadcast when children and adolescents may have been watching.
Implementation of ‘film rule’ was found to be very low.
While delivering his address Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family
Welfare, Government of India, C.K. Mishra said, “tobacco use is
detrimental to all aspects of life and grips the 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 law makers of tomorrow”.
Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Ajay Mittal, in his special
address said that tobacco sellers should warn the customers about the
ill effects of tobacco.
According to Dr. Henk Bekedam WHO representative to India, “the film
fraternity has played an extremely positive and vital role in
implementing the tobacco free film and television policy. India has
pioneered this policy and it would not have been possible without the
support of the film and television industry. Our actors are role models
who can and do impact behavior, specially of the youth. I would request
them to join this movement against tobacco & help save precious lives”.
Mr. Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairperson of CBFC suggested that after the
national anthem anti-smoking films should be shown in film theatres.
Dr. Nandita Murukutia, Country Director Vital Strategies concluded, “The
tobacco industry spends billions of dollars to mislead consumers by
depicting tobacco use as glamorous or popular. When tobacco is depicted
in films and TV Programs its doing the tobacco industry’s work for
them.Tobacco kills one million Indians every year and costs our economy
22.4 billion dollars. Our objective of this study is to understand the
importance of ‘film rule’ and the current gap in implementation. We urge
the TV and film industry to recognize its responsibilities and work
towards a tobacco free culture”.
About the film rule and the report
The rule was implemented on October 2, 2012 and mandates that three
forms of warning messages ( Anti-tobacco health spots, audio visual
disclaimers and static health warning messages) are broadcast when
tobacco products, branding or use are shown in films & television
programs . Researchers observed and coded over 413 hours of randomly
selected TV programming across 45 channels and interviewed 3080 people
to inform the finding in this report. One of the main recommendations of
this report was to organize a consultation with national stake holders
to agree to a way forward to strengthen the implementation of the Film
Rule particularly on television programs and to identify the most
effective administrative channels to ensure the smooth and streamlined
implementation of all the key elements of the film rule. As a sign of
the stakeholders commitment to this policy recommendation, the
consultation was held today in Mumbai organized by Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare in collaboration with WHO India and Vital Strategies
in partnership with Salaam Bombay Foundation.
Tobacco use in India- A growing health and economic problem.
As per Global Adult Tobacco Survey – India (GATS) by Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare 35% of the adults in the age group of 15 years and
above consume tobacco in some form or the other. Nearly 2 in 5 adults in
rural areas and one in 4 adults in urban areas use tobacco in some form.
Smokeless is the most used form of tobacco use in India with lower
social economic groups and women in particular preferring smokeless
tobacco over smoking forms. GATS found that more than 20 crore Indians
use smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco includes gutkha, zarda, pan
masala, paan with tobacco and khaini.