OTT programmes to carry anti-tobacco warnings; health ministry amends rules


PTI, May 31, 2023, 12:46 PM IST

On the World No Tobacco Day, the Union health ministry on Wednesday notified the amended rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2004, making it mandatory for OTT platforms to display anti-tobacco warnings as are seen in movies screened in theatres and TV programmes.

According to the notification, publishers of online curated content displaying tobacco products or their use will be required to display anti-tobacco health spots each of a minimum of 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the programme.

They shall also be required to exhibit an anti-tobacco health warning as a prominent static message at the bottom of the screen when tobacco products or their use are displayed during the programme.

Also, an audio-visual disclaimer of a minimum of 20 seconds on the ill-effects of tobacco use will have to be also displayed at the beginning and middle of the programme, the source stated. ”The anti-tobacco health warning message as specified in clause(b) of sub-rule (1) shall be legible and readable, with font in black colour on white background and with the warnings ‘Tobacco causes cancer’ or ‘Tobacco kills’,” the notification stated.

Besides, the anti-tobacco health warning messages, health spots and audio-visual disclaimers will have to be in the same language as used in the online curated content. The display of tobacco products or their use in online curated content shall not extend to display of the brands of cigarettes or other tobacco products or any form of tobacco product placement and display of tobacco products or their use in promotional materials.

According to a senior ministry official, the decision was taken following discussions with the Information and Broadcasting ministry and other stakeholders. ”If the publisher of online curated content fails to comply with the provisions of sub-rules (1) to (5), an inter ministerial committee consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, shall take action suo motu or on a complaint, and after identifying the publisher of online curated content, issue notice giving reasonable opportunity to explain such failure and make appropriate modification in the content,” the notification said.

The expression “online curated content” means any curated catalogue of audio-visual content, other than news and current affairs content, which is owned by, licensed to, or contracted to be transmitted by a publisher of online curated content, and made available on demand, including but not limited through subscription, over the internet or computer networks, and includes films, audio visual programmes,television programmes, serials, series and other such content.

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