OTT platforms defying Indian tobacco regulations: NOTE India


Panaji: In times of the pandemic, with theatres closed and the number of increase in viewership of over the top (OTT) platforms, concerned citizens and National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (India) have appealed to the government to act against tobacco advertising and glamorization of tobacco usages on OTT platforms.

In a statement, NOTE India stated, “To safeguard children and youth from the detrimental tobacco advertisements on different over the counter (OTT) platforms, public health organizations, schools students, teachers and parents have urged the Government of India to act against tobacco advertising and the glamorization of tobacco use on such platforms.”

Sharing some insights, it also highlighted how these OTT platforms are defying Indian law and order. “A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) titled ‘Tobacco imagery in on-demand streaming content popular among adolescents and young adults in India: implications for global tobacco control’ revealed that OTT platforms are flouting the Government of India regulations related to tobacco exposure imagery,” it stated.

Naming some top OTT platforms it stated that the study evaluated tobacco depictions in ten television series on these platforms.

Stating that use of tobacco in entertainment media is violation of law enforcement in the country it read, “Section 5 of India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) imposes a complete ban on tobacco advertising and promotion in any form of media. Therefore, it is quite evident that Section 5 of COTPA is blatantly being violated by these OTT platforms.”

Renowned Oncologist and Public Health Expert and secretary of NOTE (India) Dr Shekhar Salkar stated, “The streaming media has become a haven for the promotion of tobacco use and this extensive promotion is undermining the government film rules and provisions discouraging tobacco use. We urged the government to take necessary action to ensure these online streaming platforms are compliant with COTPA, relevant rules, and any other applicable laws in order to protect the children from exposure to tobacco products display on such platforms.”

“A relevant study conducted in New Delhi showed that adolescents aged 12–16 years with high exposure to tobacco occurrences in Bollywood films were 2.3 times more likely to have ever used tobacco compared with adolescents with low exposure,” NOTE India stated.

“It is shocking to see the glamorization of tobacco usages on such platforms. It is a well-established fact that exposure to tobacco imagery in the media increases the likelihood of tobacco uptake in adolescents and young adults and that this relationship is causal,” a teacher/ parent was quoted saying.


  • As per the GATS data, Government of India 14.6% of 13–15 year old students in India use tobacco. As many as 11% of all male students surveyed were found to be users of smoking or smokeless tobacco, while 6% of female students used smokeless tobacco and 3.7% smoked tobacco
  • Another study conducted by World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India  revealed that 76% of Indian movies had tobacco use shown in them and 52.2% of children in India who had their first smoke were influenced by tobacco use depicted in movies.



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