· Dr. Shekhar Mande, head of Vigyan Bharti and former DG of CSIR, emphasized the necessity of OTT regulation.
· OTT platforms are jeopardizing children’s health for profit; 10 lakh children will be mobilized for awareness: Priyank Kanungo, NCPCR Chairperson
· OTT programs are replete with tobacco scenes that are influencing the youth: Surekha Kishore, Executive Director, AIIMS, Gorakhpur
· OTT platforms are immensely popular among children and must be made responsible: Shayam Chona, Padma Bhushan awarded educationist
· 12-16-year-old adolescents who watched such scenes were 2-3 times more likely to try smoking: Dr. Uma Kumar, Professor at AIIMS, Delhi.
New Delhi :
Dr. Shekhar Mande, National President of Vigyan Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organization, has emphasized the critical importance of implementing tobacco warnings on Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms. He stated that this initiative is not only scientifically justified but also culturally necessary. This was echoed by Mr. Priyank Kanungo, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), who firmly asserted that efforts to make tobacco use attractive on OTT platforms will not be permitted to succeed. He further announced that 10 lakh school students across the country will actively promote awareness in this regard. Distinguished educationists and public health experts also lauded the introduction of tobacco warnings, highlighting their pivotal role in safeguarding the health of children and youth.
On May 31st, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) introduced regulations mandating tobacco warnings on OTT platforms, which came into effect on September 1st. However, while these rules are now in force, the government is still in the process of addressing concerns raised by the OTT industry, with potential accommodations expected soon.
Dr. Shekhar Mande, President of Vijnana Bharati and Former Director General of CSIR, emphasized the robust scientific evidence supporting tobacco control measures and their indispensable role in safeguarding citizens’ health. He stated, “Scientific research unambiguously underscores tobacco’s detrimental health impact. Equally robust is the evidence supporting the efficacy of tobacco control measures. Embracing these measures is our collective responsibility to safeguard our citizens. The Government of India, driven by its commitment to citizen welfare, has taken a commendable step by introducing warnings on OTT content. In instances where tobacco-related scenes are depicted on OTT series or movies, health spots will reinforce the message of potential hazards.”
Dr. Mande, recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, India’s highest science award, noted, “Scientific research backs this initiative, demonstrating how various entertainment platforms can inadvertently promote tobacco products.”
During a webinar hosted by Tobacco Free India, a group of concerned citizens, a panel of distinguished speakers gathered to discuss the critical issue of tobacco glamorization on OTT platforms. The discussion, titled “Countering Tobacco Glamorization for a Healthier Next-Generation,” examined the impact of tobacco imagery on young minds and the role of new regulations in addressing this concern.
The panel, featuring notable experts in the fields of healthcare, child rights, and science, also included Mr. Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR); Dr. Surekha Kishore, First Executive Director of AIIMS Gorakhpur; Dr. Uma Kumar, Founder Head of the Rheumatology Department at AIIMS Delhi; and Dr. Shyama Chona, a prominent educationist, Padma Bhushan awardee, and Founder-President of the Tamana Association.
NCPCR Chairperson Urges Early Implementation of Restrictions on Tobacco Scenes on OTT
Mr. Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of NCPCR, voiced his strong support for the earliest possible implementation of restrictions on tobacco scenes on OTT platforms. He underscored the vulnerability of youth to the glamorization of tobacco and emphasized the need for proactive measures. Mr. Kanoongo stated, “Our young population remains especially vulnerable to the glamorization of tobacco. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey reveals that over half of students notice anti-tobacco messages in mass media. Our unwavering responsibility is to protect them from the harmful allure of tobacco.” He announced that 10 lakh children across the country will commence an awareness campaign through Prahari Clubs established in schools nationwide.
Tobacco Epidemic Claims 13.5 Lakh Lives, OTT Rules Essential for Saving Lives: Dr. Surekha Kishore
Dr. Surekha Kishore, First Executive Director of AIIMS Gorakhpur, emphasized the critical role of tobacco warning rules for OTT platforms. Highlighting the alarming statistics of tobacco-related deaths, she noted, “In India, around 1.35 million lives are lost to tobacco-related diseases every year. This staggering figure underscores the pressing need for unified efforts against the tobacco epidemic. In recent years, OTT platforms have emerged as a powerful medium of entertainment for millions. Their responsibility cannot be underestimated. It’s vital for the entertainment industry to embrace its role in shaping perceptions and influencing choices.”
Prominent educationist Shyama Chona, recipient of India’s highest civilian awards, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, stressed that when the question concerns the lives and health of millions of children, the OTT industry should prioritize children’s future over profits. She asserted that it is the industry’s responsibility to provide wholesome entertainment to its viewers, and they cannot shirk this responsibility.
Dr. Uma Kumar, Founder Head of the Rheumatology Department at AIIMS Delhi and recipient of the National Award for Science Communication by the President of India, also wholeheartedly supported the comprehensive and immediate implementation of OTT regulations. She highlighted that these rules are a welcome step by the government, especially in safeguarding children’s health. The industry should wholeheartedly embrace them.
Background: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) introduced regulations on World No Tobacco Day (May 31st), requiring OTT platforms to display warnings during scenes depicting tobacco consumption. These warnings serve as a stark reminder of the potential risks associated with tobacco use and also include the display of health spots and disclaimers.