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Demand for inclusion of anti-tobacco warning on OTT platform

The rules that make showing on-screen warning messages mandatory are not extended to OTT platforms in India
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 30 May 2023, 18:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2023, 18:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2023, 18:18 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2023, 18:18 IST

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Ahead of the World No-Tobacco Day, public health campaigners on Tuesday demanded the inclusion of anti-tobacco rules in the OTT content since such contents have “huge viewership especially targeted to the younger generation.”

The demand follows a study in which the researchers analysed some of the popular shows aired on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and concluded that US-produced content contained more tobacco incidents than Indian content and that tobacco control rules should be applied to OTT shows.

“It is important to note that tobacco control rules are not applicable to films/series shown or streamed on Over the Top platforms,” said Mansi Chopra from Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), a non-governmental organisation and one of the team members participating in the study.

“With a huge viewership of content showcased on OTT platforms, especially targeted to the younger generation, in India, enforcement of Tobacco-free Film and TV Rules on all content streamed on web-based OTT platforms must be done,” she said.

Chopra and colleagues from HRIDAY, Public Health Foundation of India, and the University of York in the UK carried out what they described as the “first-ever systematic review” assessing the global impact of tobacco control policies on smokeless tobacco.

The review demonstrates that policy initiatives based on the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have led to reductions in smokeless tobacco prevalence, ranging from 4-30 per cent for taxation and 22-71 per cent multifaceted policies.

Moreover, the implementation of Article 11 (Pictorial health warnings) and Article 13 (Tobacco advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship ban) of the WHO FCTC was found to be widespread.

In India, according to the study published in Lancet Global Health, there is an implementation of tobacco-free film and television rules including regulations for smokeless tobacco. But such rules that make showing on-screen warning messages mandatory are not extended to OTT platforms.

In 2019, researchers from HRIDAY and PHFI analysed the tobacco contents in the OTT space sampling 188 episodes from 10 popular series including Marvellous Mrs Maisel, The Crown, Sacred Games and Mirzapur among others.

They found that contrary to India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, the rules were not being complied with by the streaming platforms.

“US-produced streaming media contains more tobacco incidents than Indian-produced media. There is an urgent need for better enforcement of existing rules on streaming platforms in India, and modernisation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 13 guidelines to account for new streaming platforms to protect youth from tobacco imagery globally,” they reported in a study published in BMJ Tobacco Control.

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Published 30 May 2023, 18:18 IST

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