Karnataka: University VCs urge Centre to display tobacco warning messages on OTT platforms

In their letters, the VCs state that there is a significant growth in OTT usage among the youth and urged that these platforms be regulated to protect young people from being addicted to tobacco products.

IANSUpdated: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 03:43 PM IST
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Bengaluru: Vice-Chancellors across Karnataka have written to Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, asking him to regulate OTT (Over The Top) platforms like Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Netflix, and others to showcase tobacco warning messages in web shows and movies.

In their letters, the VCs state that there is a significant growth in OTT usage among the youth and urged that these platforms be regulated to protect young people from being addicted to tobacco products.

Vice-Chancellors of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Christ University, Mangalore University, CMR University, KLE University, and Jain University have sent letters to the Union Health Minister urging him to regulate OTT platforms.

Dr. M.K. Ramesh, Vice Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, said, "The number of people accessing OTT platforms has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the trend is continuing. A health warning disclaimer when a smoking/tobacco chewing scene appears is mandatory and it is followed religiously in films and TV programmes. However, OTT platforms are not displaying tobacco warning messages which are influencing young people negatively.

"The responsibility to prevent young people from tobacco addiction is on us. Therefore, we urge the Union Health Minister to regulate the depiction of tobacco on OTT platforms with an appropriate warning."

The Cinematograph Act, 1952, and Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 regulates the depiction of tobacco imagery in films and television programs.

These rules are fairly implemented by theatre owners and broadcasters of television programmes. However, these rules have not been implemented by OTT platforms.

Padma Venu, a parent of a teenager said, "OTT platforms offer a wide range of entertainment and have become popular among young people. They get easily influenced by high tobacco exposure and are prone to experiment with it. As a parent, I am concerned about unregulated tobacco depiction. We urge the Union Health Minister to mandate OTT platforms to carry tobacco health warnings".

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