ITC flouted norms, put up cigarette ads during WC

Messages like ‘grabbing a flier’ with cigarette brand name show on hoardings


Sonal Matharu | April 5, 2011

Indian tobacco company limited (ITC) openly flouted the anti-tobacco laws during the cricket world cup by promoting its cigarette brand Navy Cut by printing its name on hoardings at the points of sale.

The hoardings, which were spotted in Bihar, have messages like “beating the best” and “grabbing a flier” with the cigarette brand Navy Cut printed on them. This violates section 5 of the Indian tobacco control law which says that the display boards should only list the type of tobacco products available and no brand pack shot, brand name of the tobacco product or other promotional message and picture.

Hriday, an ngo working for public health brought this to the notice of International Cricket Council’s (ICC) president Sharad Pawar’s and wrote him a letter on March 25. In the letter, their senior director Monika Arora urged the minister to discourage the tobacco companies to use cricket as a medium to promote tobacco.

“In a country where every day 5,500 youth experiment with tobacco, such sporty advertisement and promotion of cigarette will aggravate the already fatal rates of tobacco use among youth,” Arora wrote in the letter, “We are concerned that associating tobacco with cricket in any form would encourage people, especially youth to follow their religion, cricket, by lighting a cigarette.”

A study was done in 1997 by fellows from Goa Cancer Society and Tata Memorial hospital, Mumbai on the ‘effect of sports sponsorship by tobacco companies on children’s experimentation with tobacco’ which showed that “despite a high level of knowledge about the adverse effects of tobacco, cricket sponsorship by tobacco companies increased children's likelihood of experimentation with tobacco by creating false associations between smoking and sport”. 66 out of 1275 (5.2%) randomly selected children from Goa who watched the matches and were surveyed for the study were tempted to buy cigarettes and 40 (3.1 %) bought and smoked cigarettes, notes the study.

“Many of the children believed that the cricketers smoked. Although no player in the Indian team smokes, 1,110 children thought that at least one player smoked and 428 thought that at least four players smoked,” the report added.

The letter to the ICC president added that apex body for world cricket should direct the tobacco company to withdraw all such advertisements wheresoever displayed in the country and prohibit the use of cricket to advertise or promote, directly or indirectly substances like tobacco and alcohol.

Copies of the letter were also sent to sports minister Ajay Maken, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar. However, no reply from any of the ministers has been received yet by Hriday.



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