Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Delhi HC dismisses petition against anti-tobacco health spots in films & TV

The Delhi High Court has rejected a petition seeking a ban on the display of anti-tobacco health warnings containing “graphic or gross images” during films in theatres, on television, or on OTT platforms.

Justice Subramonium Prasad said that the graphic descriptions used in government-issued advertisements are intended to be “eye-openers for the people” to deter tobacco and tobacco product use, serving the public interest.

“The purpose of displaying distasteful, graphic anti-tobacco imagery in health warnings shown during movies and TV programs is solely to make people aware of the ailments and ill-effects of consuming tobacco and tobacco products and to illustrate what tobacco can do to their health,” the court stated.

Regarding the petitioner, Advocate Divyam Aggarwal, the court described the plea as a misuse of the legal process but refrained from making any comments that might impact his future.

“However, this court warns the petitioner not to file such kind of frivolous petitions in the future,” the court cautioned.

Aggarwal’s grievance centered on the presence of “distasteful, gross, and graphic anti-tobacco imagery” in health warnings played during movies and TV programmes.

The court stressed on the harmful health effects of smoking and mentioned the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003, which mandates statutory warnings on cigarette and tobacco product packaging and outlines the manner of specifying warnings.

The court said that the government uses these graphic descriptions in advertisements to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco and tobacco products. It noted that these government-issued ads, which the petitioner considered to contain gross and graphic imagery, are meant to discourage tobacco use and are in the public interest.

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