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Govt to tighten norms for on-screen smoking

12 Nov. 2011

After banning real-life smoking in public places, government has decided to tighten norms for on-screen smoking too. From November 14 no TV programme or film can easily show smoking scenes or any other tobacco products.

The government believes tobacco use in films influences young people towards smoking. Hence, in an attempt to discourage tobacco consumption, particularly smoking, the Union ministry of health and family has made it compulsory to have health spots and scrolls talking about ill-effects of tobacco, compulsory in all old and new films and TV programmes showing smoking scenes.

Accordingly, all new films and TV programmes must have strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products and the actor concerned must give a disclaimer of 20 seconds each regarding the ill-effects of the use of such products. This disclaimer has to be used in the beginning and middle of the film or the television programme.

The films and programmes must also carry strong anti-tobacco health spots or messages, of minimum 30 seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the film or the TV programme.

Besides, a strong anti-tobacco health warning must be there as a prominent scroll at the bottom of the screen during the period of such smoking scene.

For old movies and TV programmes produced before November 14, 2011, displaying tobacco products or its use have to be telecast at such timings that are likely to have least viewership. They also must carry anti-tobacco health spots or messages and anti-tobacco health warnings.

To restrict blatant display of tobacco brands in old films and TV programmes, the new rules make it mandatory to crop /mask display of brands of cigarettes or any other tobacco product, their closeups. In new films and TV programmes such scenes have to be edited or blurred by the producer prior to screening. The ban on display of tobacco product or its usage also extends to promotional materials and posters as well.

The government has also decided to place a representative of health ministry in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to monitor such scenes from now. Films with heavy use of tobacco products are likely to get “A” certificate.

The new norms are likely to trigger fresh debate as in the past too, actors and directors have protested against ban on smoking scenes.

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