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Assessment of tobacco imagery and compliance with tobacco-free rules in popular Indian films

Muralidhar, Kulkarni; Veena, Kamath; Joanne, Cranwell; Britton, John; Gaurang, Nazar; Monika, Arora; Kirthinath, Ballal; Asha, Kamath


Kulkarni Muralidhar

Kamath Veena

Cranwell Joanne

John Britton

Nazar Gaurang

Arora Monika

Ballal Kirthinath

Kamath Asha


Background: Exposure to smoking in films causes smoking uptake among adolescents. Investigation of the extent to which tobacco imagery appears, or tobacco control laws are complied with in Indian films is limited, and especially so for films in regional languages. This study presents an analysis of tobacco content and compliance with tobacco control laws in popular films in several languages from the Karnataka state of India.

Methods: We used 5?min interval coding to measure actual tobacco use, implied tobacco use, tobacco paraphernalia and tobacco branding in the top 10 films identified from national box office ratings and regional distributor reports in Karnataka in 2015 and 2016. We also assessed compliance with tobacco-free film rules in India.

Findings: A total of 47 films, in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Tulu languages were coded. Any tobacco imagery was observed in 72% of films, and actual tobacco use in 50%. Tobacco imagery was equally prevalent in films classified as suitable for universal viewing (U category) or at age 12 or more (U/A category) films; and significantly more common in films made in regional than national language (Hindi). None of the films were fully compliant with legal requirements on health spots, audiovisual disclaimers and health warnings.

Conclusions: Tobacco content was common in films classified as suitable for viewing by children, more among regional than national languages. Compliance with tobacco control laws was low. Stricter enforcement of tobacco-free film rules will protect children and adolescents from exposure to tobacco use on screen.


Muralidhar, K., Veena, K., Joanne, C., Britton, J., Gaurang, N., Monika, A., …Asha, K. (2019). Assessment of tobacco imagery and compliance with tobacco-free rules in popular Indian films. Tobacco Control,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 16, 2019
Publication Date Feb 16, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 18, 2019
Journal Tobacco Control
Print ISSN 0964-4563
Electronic ISSN 1468-3318
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL


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