Delhi HC Dismisses Plea Seeking Ban On Anti-Tobacco Ad Campaign At Cinemas
The Petitioner, being a non-smoker and not a consumer of any tobacco products, is wrongfully subjected to the compulsory watching of these graphic images in the anti-tobacco health spots during a film in the cinema hall and during TV programmes at home
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking direction to prohibit the display of graphic imagery in the anti-tobacco health spots/advertisements that are played before and during the screening of films in cinema halls, on television, on OTT platforms and other audio-visual mediums of screening/streaming movie.
The Petitioner Divyam Aggarwal, a practising advocate, contended that "compulsorily showing these graphic images to non-smokers while watching movies in their leisure time affects their fundamental right to leisure under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad, however, dismissed the plea stating that it was a policy decision.
The plea further stated that these "health spots show close-up images of mouth cancers, surgical procedures, disfigured body parts, blood, etc., which are similar to those found on the tobacco packaging and which are not really necessary to push the message of quitting tobacco/smoking, and these gross images shown in these health spots leave a lasting distasteful impact on the minds of the viewer and thus tend to spoil the entire movie watching experience of the viewers like the Petitioner, which is a violation of the fundamental 'Right to leisure' of the Petitioner."
"The Petitioner, being a non-smoker and not a consumer of any tobacco products, is wrongfully subjected to the compulsory watching of these graphic images in the anti-tobacco health spots during a film in the cinema hall and during TV programmes at home," it said.
"The content of these ads is aimed at people who are smokers and tends to appeal to them to quit smoking/tobacco, but it is the non-smoker who also has to go through the unpleasant images displayed in these ads," the plea said.
Further, movies that are not 'A' certified by the Central Board of Film Certification are watched by children as well, who have impressionable minds. The compulsion to show these anti-tobacco health spots in all the films means subjecting even those children to these unpleasant images and has the potential to adversely affect their minds and perceptions, plea stated.
The plea further stated that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has hitherto provided a total of 11 anti-tobacco health spots that are aired on rotation as per the instructions of the Ministry.
Out of these 11 health spots, 3 contain extremely graphic images during film screenings. Now, these rules have been extended to the films published on OTT platforms. Therefore, the scope of these images is actually being expanded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, without actually considering a change in these health spots. (ANI)