Dr Shekhar Salkar, President National Organization for tobacco eradication ( NOTE-India) today urged Shri Mansukh Mandaviya Hon’ble Health Minister, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to regulate use of tobacco product on OTT platform to save our young generation from tobacco addiction.
In a written correspondence Dr Salkar stated that as per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2019, nearly one-fifth of the students aged 13-15 have used tobacco in some form.
COTPA Rules have been notified to regulate depiction of tobacco imagery in Films and TV Programmes. Though, the COTPA Rules are fairly well implemented by cinema theatre owners and broadcasters of television programmes, however they are not applicable to the films/series that are shown/streamed on Over the Top (OTT) platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, Hotstar, ZEE5, Voot, ALTBalaji, MXplayer etc.
As per the study published in BMJ- “Tobacco imagery in on-demand streaming content popular among adolescents and young adults in India: implications for global tobacco control”, there is rampant depiction of tobacco use in series on OTT platforms and most were rated for viewers below 18 years, thus targeting youth and children.
To save youth from menace of tobacco, India must close the regulatory gap in OTT media and ideally extend its film rule to OTT with effective enforcement without further delay.