'Ban surrogate advertisements of tobacco products'

An anti-tobacco organisation has approached the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to ban advertisements promoting tobacco products. It alleged that tobacco products are being promoted indirectly in the country.

“In the name of advertising for pan masala, tobacco companies promote products like gutkha,” said Amit Yadav, manager (legal cell) of Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth.

“If you look at the advertisements, you will find images of gutkha packet instead of pan masala. In fact, the pack of gutkha will be identical to the one advertised, while a pan masala pack will look different,” said Yadav in a letter to the authority.

The letter, addressed to the standards authority chairperson K Chandramouli, stated that the tobacco industry has been using indirect and surrogate means, such as sponsoring TV shows, cricket tournaments and award functions, to promote tobacco products through identical brand extensions.

“The use of identical or similar brand names creates confusion and incites consumers, particularly youth, to experiment with such products,” Yadav wrote.
The authority had passed a regulation banning sale of tobacco products a few months ago.

“Kerala and Maharashtra have banned tobacco products after a regulation,” said Yadav.
Yadav’s organisation has written to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, asking it to remove all indirect or surrogate advertisements of tobacco products from Metro stations and feeder bus service.

The DMRC responded that this issue should not be seen in isolation since such ads are found everywhere.

This prompted the organisation to approached the authority to ban advertisement of pan masala products as well. “We are planning to write to state governments to follow the examples of Kerala and Maharashtra,” said Yadav.

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