Anti-Tobacco Warnings on OTT Platforms Are Required

  • Over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms must include anti-tobacco warnings similar to those shown in theatres and on television.
  • The requirement is based on a notification from the Union Health Ministry that alters the provisions under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) of 2004.

New Anti-Tobacco Warning Requirements

  • Publishers of curated online material depicting tobacco products or their use must include anti-tobacco health messages at the start and middle of the programme.
  • When tobacco products or their usage are shown during the programme, an anti-tobacco health warning must be clearly shown at the bottom of the screen as a static message.
  • With black lettering on a white backdrop, the warning message should be legible and readable.
  • The explicit warnings are ‘Tobacco causes cancer’ or ‘Tobacco kills.’
  • Health warnings, health spots, and audio-visual disclaimers should all be in the same language as the broadcast.

Tobacco’s negative health effects

  • Tobacco usage is the leading avoidable cause of cancer. Cancers of the lungs, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, kidney, and cervix have all been linked to it.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, can be caused by it. It might also aggravate asthma symptoms.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Consumption raises the chance of having a heart attack, having a stroke, or having another cardiovascular illness. It causes blood vessel damage and raises the risk of blood clots.
  • Tobacco usage has been linked to infertility, early birth, and low birth weight in newborns.

Socio-economic impact

(1) On an individual level:

  • Reduced productivity: Smoking-related ailments can cause absenteeism, poor work performance, and increased medical costs.
  • Reduced life expectancy: Tobacco use can lead to a reduction in life expectancy, which reduces an individual’s overall productive years.

(2) On a societal level:

  • Healthcare expenditures: Tobacco use can reduce economic development by increasing the burden of healthcare costs and decreasing productivity.
  • Increased societal expenditure: According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, tobacco-related illnesses cost India $22.4 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity per year.

Why isn’t tobacco entirely prohibited?

  • Revenue loss: The industry contributes significantly to the government’s tax revenue. Tobacco prohibition would result in the loss of these tax funds, which are used to fund a variety of public welfare programmes and projects.
  • Economic Impact: The tobacco industry employs a considerable number of people, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is prevalent in tobacco production.
  • It is not a psychoactive substance: While the detrimental effects of tobacco are well documented, completely prohibiting a legal commodity necessitates serious deliberation and legal processes.
  • Instead of outright prohibition, the Indian government has used a regulatory strategy to controlling tobacco consumption.

The way forward

  • Tobacco control laws should be strengthened: To effectively limit tobacco consumption, existing legislation should be reviewed and improved.
  • Organise public awareness campaigns: Educate the public on the dangers of tobacco smoking and the advantages of quitting.
  • Increase access to smoking cessation programmes: Increase the availability of low-cost, high-impact programmes to assist those who want to quit smoking.
  • Implement tobacco product sin taxes: Taxes should be raised to discourage consumption, particularly among price-sensitive people.
  • Establish smoke-free zones: Smoke-free legislation must be strictly enforced in public areas, workplaces, and public transportation.
  • Help tobacco farmers: Provide farmers with alternate livelihood options and help as they transition away from tobacco farming.
  • Conduct research and monitoring: In order to inform evidence-based policies and initiatives, invest in data gathering and analysis.
  • Working with international organisations: Collaborate with global organisations such as WHO to utilise expertise and resources in tobacco reduction.
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.