The government should scrap the amendment made to display anti-tobacco warnings on content on entertainment apps as it is impractical to implement the rule, advertisement guru Prahlad Kakkar said on Friday.
The health ministry on May 31 notified amendments in the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Rules, 2023. The rule mandates the inclusion of anti-tobacco health spots, warnings and disclaimers by publishers of online curated content or OTT Platforms in audio-visual programmes depicting the use of cigarettes and tobacco products.
“I think it is impractical. I do not think it is applicable or effective or practical. There is no question of rolling back. it is about scrapping,” Kakkar said during a panel discussion organised by a think tank. He said that the rule has been made to curtail OTT platforms. Kakkar alleged the government of adopting double standards and said it should ban cigarettes if they want people to not smoke rather than making rules to display warning.
IndusLaw Partner Shreya Suri said that the Union Health Ministry released a very surprising amendment without consulting anyone in the industry on World Tobacco Day, which essentially regulates and imposes compliance, obligations on OTT platforms for displaying certain health, health sports and disclaimers regarding the smoking of tobacco being injurious to health. “This is something which has an ambitious timeline for compliance of 90 days, which is not being very well received by different stakeholders because it seems impossible at this point in time,” she said.
Koan Advisory Group, Economics Associate, Tamanna Sharma said that OTT is something that a large portion of the audience watches on smartphones. “It’s a very small screen, 6 to 7 inches. Now, if, apart from the additional age ratings and content receptors, you are wanting to add more kinds of warnings it is actually going to ultimately hamper the viewers’ experience. And it’s not really going to have any sort of effective impact,” she said.