Tobacco ads everywhere, why isolate Metro: DMRC

Reacting to a letter by an anti-tobacco advocacy group on display of tobacco advertisements at various Metro stations in the capital, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Wednesday said gutka and cigarette ads are everywhere, and "the Metro should not be blamed in isolation".

"If you talk of tobacco advertisements, they are everywhere - on television, radio, malls etc. The DMRC can't be seen in isolation for something like this," a source from the DMRC management told IANS Wednesday.

In a letter to the DMRC chief, voluntary group HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Among Youth) had asked the management to take advertisements of tobacco products off Metro premises as the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (2003) prohibits any form of direct or indirect advertisement of tobacco products.

While DMRC managing director Mangu Singh is yet to formally respond to the letter, the Metro management said it is the responsibility of the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) to step in and issue common guidelines for control on tobacco ads.

"It is the DAVP guidelines that will help. Reach of mediums such as TV and radio, where these ads are more prevalent, is far more than the Metro," the official said.

The DMRC follows the guidelines set by the DAVP, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, for the display of advertisements in its premises.

"Our managing director would be drafting the letter soon," added the official.

HRIDAY, in its letter June 1, had stated: "Indirect/surrogate advertisements of tobacco products like 'Chaini Chaini', 'Cool Lip', 'Dilbag', 'Rajdarbar' have been displayed at many prominent and most busy metro stations like Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate and Central Secretariat."

"Feeder buses around several Delhi metro stations have been seen completely painted with tobacco advertisements," it added.

The voluntary organisation expressed concern at over 90 percent of oral cancer cases in the Indian population being attributed to consumption of gutka or smokeless tobacco.

"A total of 20 advertisements were reported at various metro stations. With a total footfall of about 15 lakh passengers, it is imperative that DMRC initiate immediate steps to order removal of all such advertisements and penalise the violators," the letter said.

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