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Table of Contents
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 106-111

Monitoring framework for direct and indirect tobacco advertisements

Department of Community Medicine, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India

Date of Submission31-Aug-2022
Date of Acceptance21-Jan-2023
Date of Web Publication20-Feb-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sunil K Raina
Department of Community Medicine, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMJM.AMJM_32_22

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Tobacco use is a significant risk factor contributing to a variety of non-communicable diseases and chronic illnesses. Adolescent smoking is more likely to start as a result of tobacco advertising and promotion, which might result in a rise in the number of adult smokers in the future. Developing a monitoring framework for direct and indirect tobacco advertisement is an important step to control tobacco use.

Keywords: Framework, monitoring, tobacco advertisements

How to cite this article:
Supehia S, Raina SK. Monitoring framework for direct and indirect tobacco advertisements. Amrita J Med 2022;18:106-11

How to cite this URL:
Supehia S, Raina SK. Monitoring framework for direct and indirect tobacco advertisements. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 30];18:106-11. Available from: https://ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2022/18/4/106/370004

  Introduction Top

Tobacco use is a significant risk factor contributing to a variety of non-communicable diseases and chronic illnesses, including cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.[1] Adolescent smoking is more likely to start as a result of tobacco advertising and promotion, which might result in a rise in the number of adult smokers in the future.[2],[3],[4] An increasing number of public health specialists are highlighting the marketing (advertising and other promotional methods) that encourages teens and children to consume cigarettes and smokeless tobacco by making it appealing to them. The Framework Convention on Cigarette Control has underlined the significance of advertising prohibitions as part of comprehensive tobacco control efforts and supports a complete prohibition of tobacco advertising.[5] The various marketing strategies already exist in different forms, such as retail value-added promotions; promotional allowances; showcase advertising at point-of-sale; magazines and newspaper advertising; outdoor advertising; sponsorship of sporting events and public entertainment; distribution of free samples of cigarettes; and direct-mail promotions.[6] Tobacco corporations regularly use indirect marketing techniques to get around partial bans on direct advertising and promotions of tobacco products in conventional media.[7]

An advertisement “includes any visible representation by the way of notice, circular, label, wrapper, or other document and also includes any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting light, sound, smoke, or gas.”[8] “A surrogate advertisement can be defined as an advertisement that duplicates the brand image of one product to promote another product of the same brand.”[9] Surrogate advertising strategies include displaying hoardings and billboards with images of mouth fresheners, “elaichi,” and paan masala in prominent locations around cities, or enlisting celebrities to promote the dangerous product. The tobacco industry is quite resourceful due to its substantial marketing budget that intends to lure new customers and attempts to discourage the use of tobacco among current tobacco users, by using a combination of marketing tactics aimed at diverse demographics and groups.[10]

Surrogate advertisements started showing up in the mid-1990s in India, which was followed by the prohibition of direct alcohol, tobacco, and cigarette advertisements that came into effect after the Cable Television Network Act, 1995.[11]

According to Party reports submitted to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2018, 18% of the global population is subject to the “highest level” of Tobacco Advertisement, Promotion, and Sponsorship (TAPS) prohibitions, which includes broad-ranging direct and indirect advertising bans.[12] In India, the government has prohibited the direct and indirect promotion of tobacco products by taking several initiatives such as COTPA Act 2003.[8] Despite laws and policies, such manipulative and deceptive advertisements for tobacco products are widespread and increase constantly, posing a severe threat to public health. As in the instance of Gutkha companies, whose brand names are same for cardamom and Gutkha as a result, a young child will not be able to distinguish between these two items, which shows to be a shrewd strategy or tactic to fool young brains. However, even after this rule has been in effect for 20 years, the loopholes that have evolved also need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Tobacco control initiatives are a growing trend that takes a strong multifunctional approach and involves several stakeholders from various departments. The goal is to create methods for evaluating and developing reliable monitoring frameworks that include several tobacco control laws and regulations. The monitoring framework is intended to guide a comprehensive and systemic assessment of direct and indirect tobacco advertisements. Long-term monitoring with long-term sustainability is crucial for the implementation of tobacco control at a greater level.

Situation analysis

The first step of the study involved an analysis on the current/prevailing situation with regard to tobacco advertisement and the processes in place to implement a strategy to counter these.

Continuous advertising

Despite the legislation of the tobacco advertising ban, continuous advertising violating tobacco control legislation is still happening, which is summarized below as two case scenarios.

Case 1

The Himachal Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala hosted the India versus Sri Lanka 2022 3rd T20I during the last week of February 2022, which included in-stadium advertising for Chaini-Chaini and Raj Niwas. This match was broadcast live on Disney+Hotstar, Jio TV, Star Sports 1 & Star Sports 1 HD, and Disney+Hotstar HD. It was noticed that some tobacco companies continue to advertise and promote their products through brand stretching and surrogate advertising. They usually do so either directly as sponsors of teams and sports equipment, or indirectly through Board of Control for Cricket in India and International Cricket Council-affiliated news, sports, and media outlets. For the above-mentioned sporting events, so much of this content is developed, uploaded, and broadcast in one nation and then shared with another nation, which leads to digital media consumption by crossing borders, and it provides greater ways to get around TAPS restrictions [Figure 1]A and B.
Figure 1: (a) and (b): In-stadium advertising for Chaini-Chaini and Raj Niwas

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Case 2

Subsequently, it was observed that the number of direct advertisements for brand “Shikhar Pan Masala” with a large size and range to make eye-catching billboards has seen a substantial increase in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India in the past 4 months, that is, March 2022–June 2022. This surge in tobacco advertisements and promotion in recent months is concerning because it drives new customers to these tobacco retailers in larger numbers [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Direct advertisements for brand “Shikhar Pan Masala”

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There are already existing provisions against tobacco advertising.

  1. Direct legislation
  2. Supporting/contributing legislation and
  3. The processes for implementation

Direct legislation

That includes the already-existing laws and policies that specifically ban the direct or indirect advertisement of products such as tobacco, alcohol, or any other illegal or prohibited product in India.

  1. The Cable Television Network Rules, 1994: According to Rule 7(2)(viii), it states that “No advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly the production, sale, or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants.”[13]

  2. Cigarettes and other tobacco products (prohibition of advertisement and regulation of trade and commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) ACT, 2003 (“COTPA”): The use of a name or brand of tobacco products for the marketing, promotion, or advertising of other items would be considered a type of “indirect advertisement,” as stated in sub clauses I (iii), and (iv) of Rule 2 of the COTPA Rules. Hence, an indirect advertisement carried out in the form of a surrogate advertisement by tobacco companies would consequently be prohibited under Section 5.[8]

  3. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI): As per Chapter III (3.1), Against Harmful products/situations, it states that “to safeguard the indiscriminate use of advertising in situations or of the promotion of products which are regarded as hazardous or harmful to society or to individuals, particularly minors, to a degree or of a type which is unacceptable to society at large. No advertisements shall be permitted.”[14]

  4. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): According to World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (Article 13.1), “Parties recognize that a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship would reduce the consumption of tobacco products.” It also states that “Tobacco advertising and promotion is any form of commercial communication, recommendation, or action with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use either directly or indirectly.”[12]

Contributing legislation

The state government introduced few legislations to impose stricter restrictions on tobacco consumption, as outlined below:

  1. Advertisements Bye Laws 2020 of Dharamshala Municipal Corporation: According to Rule 3(B)(v), it states that “No hoarding, advertisement, banners should be put up in contravention of any law & rules against the guidelines notified by any department.” Also, as per Rule 6, “the municipal authority may take actions to modify or remove any advertising device that contravenes the following negative advertisements or that otherwise causes a traffic hazard that includes advertisements promoting drugs, alcohol, cigarette, or tobacco items.” [15]

  2. As per notification released from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Himachal Pradesh dated February 24, 2022 by the Food Safety Commissioner-cum-Health Secretary which states that “Under clause (a) of subsection 2 of Section 30 of the Act read with regulations 2.3.4 and 3.1.7, prohibit the manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of Gutka or Pan masala, scented chewing Pan masala or Khaini, Masheri, Zarda, or any other products marketed separately to constitute a Gutka or Pan masala a final product (containing tobacco or nicotine) by whatever name called whether packaged or unpackaged and sold as one product, or through packaged in separate products, sold or distributed in the whole of Himachal Pradesh for a period of 1 year from the date of publication of this notification in Rajpatra, Himachal Pradesh, and further order that if the said products are manufactured, stored, sold/distributed in the State of Himachal Pradesh, the persons doing so, will be proceeded/penalized against as per the provisions of the Act ibid.” [16]

Processes for implementation

In accordance with already existing processes, the Advertisement Bye-Laws of the Municipal Corporation state that the tobacco advertisements, whether direct or indirect, in the form of hoardings or billboards, must be sanctioned through tender invitation (if the size is over 50 sq. feet), headed by the Commissioner or her/his representative or private experts (in exceptional cases). The process for seeking approval from the Commissioner in order to advertise is currently in place and comprises a written no objection certificate from the landowner, multiple copies with a plan depicting location, norms, and size of advertisement, and a copy of the advertisement to be displayed. The Advertisement Regulation Committee (consisting of Additional Corporation, Two Municipal Councilors, Executive Engineer from Municipal Corporation, Municipal Town Planner, Branch in-charge Advertisement, and representative of concerned Highway Authority) is in place to identify different areas of special control and also prepare advertisement/zoning plans (the numbered plan that defines the area of special control and restrictions about the advertisement that apply to such areas, signed by the Commissioner and held in the office). In the case of any practical issues with respect to the implementation of byelaws, cases will be referred to the aforementioned committee, which will then give suitable advice to the Commissioner for decision-making [Figure 3].[15]
Figure 3: The Processes involved in outdoor advertising

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The case scenarios depict that the implementation may not be at optimum. The reasons could be a lack of enforcement officials and awareness regarding the existing policies and legislation, as well as restrictions in the implementation of legislation on the level of tobacco advertising. The restrictions could be the lack of manpower or other priority areas. To intervene in practices of tobacco use by following the existing processes, it needs better and stricter implementation of the legislation to ensure compliance with prohibitions.[7] As can be seen, these kinds of incidents continue to occur frequently despite the fact that there are already direct policies and laws prohibiting tobacco advertisements, as well as supporting laws that indirectly relate to the ban on tobacco advertisements and the existing processes that are involved. In the long term, it is essential to prohibit tobacco products by strengthening the enforcement of already existing legislation by setting up collaborative processes at the state and national level.

  Recommendations Top

Monitoring framework

There is limited evidence pertaining to the merits or demerits of existing rules/policies on tobacco advertisements,[17] and the Global progress in FCTC implementation showed the “intermediate level of progress (some progress, but slower and often partial)” for FCTC Article 13.[18]

The existing literature evidence for monitoring and assessment of direct and indirect tobacco advertisements is limited. However, one study reported the assessment by WHO experts on implementation of complete TAPS that showed the weakening of TAPS ban over time and World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control lack defined mechanisms to ensure when the parties are non-compliant.[19] The pros and cons of any alternative monitoring framework or model are not covered in any literature so far which is intended for systemic assessment of direct and indirect advertisements.

Therefore, the recommendations would be to strengthen the existing system through these processes outlined in the framework:

  1. The advertisers should have onus to inform the details regarding the advertisement to the concerned authority such as Municipal Council or Corporation. Strict legal action should be taken against the violators.

  2. The person who is taking advertisements should be aware of the advertiser and also have the onus to inform the concerned authorities as aforementioned.

  3. The provision of immediate withdrawal of prohibited advertisements despite the contractual agreement.

  4. Rules should be framed for the better implementation and strengthening of processes. Any event with mass viewing in public places such as stadiums, big events, or mass viewing through digital platforms such as television or the Internet, it should be mandatory to have a complete list of advertisers with categories of advertisements that need to be reported to the Commissioner or any concerned official, and there must be a provision of inbuilt monitoring to monitor the record of advertisements.

  5. Display board with details (name, contact number) of a designated officer from the advertisement regulation/coordination committee in offices to whom the violations could be reported.

  6. The designated officer would be held accountable for monthly reporting of tobacco-related advertisements to the Municipal Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, even if there is zero reporting [Table 1].

  7. The designated officer will check on mass gathering events (defined as any event that is expected to gather 5000 or more people in one place at once, such as, stadium, concert area) for tobacco-related advertisements.

  8. Inbuilt provision for the establishment of a citizen forum as a stakeholder to check on the direct and indirect mass gatherings and to report TAPS.

  9. Shared responsibility at state or local level such as in offices, organizations should be adapted to ensure effective implementation and monitoring procedures.
Table 1: Reporting format for tobacco-related advertisements

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Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Institute of Medicine, Lynch BS, Bonnie RJ, editors. Growing Up Tobacco Free: Preventing Nicotine Addiction in Children and Youths. Washington, DC: National Academy Press;1994.  Back to cited text no. 2
Lovato C, Watts A, Stead LF Impact of tobacco advertising and promotion on increasing adolescent smoking behaviours. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011;5:CD003439.  Back to cited text no. 3
Wellman RJ, Sugarman DB, DiFranza JR, Winickoff JP The extent to which tobacco marketing and tobacco use in films contribute to children’s use of tobacco: A meta-analysis. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2006;160:1285-96.  Back to cited text no. 4
World Health Organisation. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic. Geneva: World Health Organisation; 2019.  Back to cited text no. 5
Institute of Medicine (US). Committee on Preventing Nicotine Addiction in Children and Youths. Lynch BS, Bonnie RJ, editors. Washington (DC): National Academies Press;1994.  Back to cited text no. 6
World Health Organization. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2009. Implementing Smoke-Free Environments. Geneva: World Health Organization;2009.  Back to cited text no. 7
Government of India. The cigarettes and other tobacco products: Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Bill 2003. Available online at: https://legislative.gov.in. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 8
Raut S Surrogate advertisements. In: India—Advertising, Marketing & Branding—India. Mondaq.com;2017. Available from: https://www.mondaq.com/india/advertising-marketing-branding/606974/surrogate-advertisements-in-india. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 9
World Health Organization. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2021. Implementing Smoke-Free Environments. Geneva: World Health Organization;2021.  Back to cited text no. 10
Government of India. Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, and rules framed there under. Available online at: https://legislative.gov.in. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 11
World Health Organisation. WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2019: Offer help to quit tobacco use. 2019. Available: https://www.who.int/teams/health-promotion/tobacco-control/who-report-on-the-global-tobacco-epidemic-2019&publication=9789241516204. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 12
Government of India. The Cable Television Network Rules. 1994. Available: https://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/CableTelevisionNetworksRules1994.pdf. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 13
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). The Code for Self-regulations of advertising content in India. Available from: https://iprmentlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ASCI-Code.pdf. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 14
Advertisements Bye Laws 2020 of Dharamshala Municipal Corporation. No. DMC/Estt(A)7-2/2020 (Notified February 17, 2020). Available online at: https://edharamshala.in. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 15
Government of Himachal Pradesh, Department of Health and Family Welfare, No. Health-C-A(3)-4/2020 (Notified on February 24, 2022). Available online at: https://rajpatrahimachal.nic.in. [Last accessed on 04 February 2023].  Back to cited text no. 16
Hoffman SJ, Tan C Overview of systematic reviews on the health-related effects of government tobacco control policies. BMC Public Health 2015;15:744.  Back to cited text no. 17
Chung-Hall J, Craig L, Gravely S, Sansone N, Fong GT Impact of the WHO FCTC over the first decade: A global evidence review prepared for the impact assessment expert group. Tob Control 2019;28:s119-28.  Back to cited text no. 18
Hiilamo H, Glantz S FCTC followed by accelerated implementation of tobacco advertising bans. Tob Control 2017;26:428-33.  Back to cited text no. 19


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]


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