NGO seeks ban on tobacco ads during World Cup

An NGO Monday sought a ban on tobacco advertisements during the cricket World Cup, saying these will have an adverse effect on the minds of the people.

New Delhi-based HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) Monday wrote to International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar on the issue, the group’s communications officer Nikunj Sharma told.

The letter was written by organisation’s senior director Monika Arora, he said.

Given the World Cup fever that has gripped the sub-continent, Indian tobacco giant ITC has commissioned the display of messages like “Beating the Best” or “Grabbing a Flier” to promote its cigarette brands at various points of sale (PoS), he said.

“This is in violation of the tobacco control rules, which say display boards should only list the type of tobacco products available, he said.

“No brand pack shot, brand name of the tobacco product or other promotional message and picture should be displayed on the board,” he added.

“In a country where 5,500 youth experiment with tobacco every day, such advertisements and promotion of cigarettes will strengthen the sport’s association with tobacco use in the minds of youth” according to Sharma.

Arora, in the letter, cited the example how Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, true to his promise and character, refused a mega offer to endorse a liquor brand.

“He has set a classic example of how he believes that cricket has the power to influence the mind and thinking of people of India” Arora wrote.

A study conducted in India has concluded that wrong perceptions about smoking promoted by tobacco sponsorship increased smoking initiation amongst both boys and girls even when they are aware of the risks involved, she said.

HRIDAY is engaged in activities aiming to promote health awareness and informed health activism among school and college students in India since 1992.

It works in collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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