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Health Ministry Issues Anti-Tobacco Guidelines for Online Content

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) came out with guidelines for publishing online content depicting tobacco products. At the event organized by the Ministry, the Union Health Minister, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya urged people “to break free from the shackles of tobacco and embrace a healthier lifestyle”.

Some of the features of the guidelines are as follows: –

  • Anti-tobacco health spots must be displayed at the beginning and middle of the content program for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  • When tobacco products or their use are depicted, anti-tobacco health warnings must be broadcast at the bottom of the screen as a prominent static message during such telecast or streaming. These warning messages have to be legible and readable with black font on a white background and have to include the warnings – “Tobacco causes cancer” or “Tobacco kills”.
  • A 20-second audio-visual disclaimer on the ill effects of using tobacco has to be displayed at the beginning and middle of the program.
  • The language used in the online curated content has to be used for health spots, warning messages and audio-visual disclaimers as well.
  • The publishers of online curated content may access the health spots, messages, and disclaimers on the Ministry’s website. These details will soon be uploaded to the portal.
  • Depiction of the brands of cigarettes or other tobacco products, etc. in online curated content is prohibited.

The press release dated May 31, 2023, specifies that action would be taken by an inter-ministerial committee for non-compliance with these guidelines. The committee would issue a notice giving the publishers a reasonable opportunity to present their cases and ask them to make required modifications to the online content.