GO banning ads bigger than 60 cm x 45 cm notified in May
Almost every small shop in Puducherry has a prominent advertisement of popular cigarette or tobacco brands, with brand names and insignia being used above the display of the shop’s name.
In May this year, however, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has notified a Government Order banning any sort of advertisements that are bigger than 60 cm x 45 cm. Despite this notification, so far, there has been no serious move to remove these boards.
According to an owner of a shop, Kumar, the signboard provides significant income to shopkeepers every month. It also saves the shopkeeper the need to print a signboard with the shop’s name. Removing the board would, therefore, cause a loss in income. So far, there had been no requests from any of the authorities to remove the board, so it was still in place, he added.
Uncertain of consequences
The shopkeepers were uncertain of the consequences of removing the signboard and affixing a smaller advertisement instead. They were unsure if the tobacco companies would reduce the amount of money given to them or stop paying them altogether, Kumar said.
In the new notification, the rule regarding the sign board’s size is mentioned as: “the size of the board used for advertisement of cigarettes and any other tobacco products, displayed at the entrance of a warehouse or a shop where cigarettes or any other tobacco products are offered for sale, shall not exceed 60cmx45cm”.
Also, each board should have the words “Tobacco causes cancer” or “Tobacco Kills” in an Indian language as applicable.
This message should be on the top of the board and also measure 20 cm x 15 cm. This warning should be prominent, legible and written in black on a white background.
According to an official of the Revenue Department, there had been some controversy earlier since a resolution had been passed in the Assembly in 2005 banning advertisement of tobacco products, but nothing was officially notified.
It was only recently that there has been a notification in the gazette banning ads bigger than 60 cm x 45 cm.
The Revenue Department was now planning to tie up with the Health Department in order to enforce the rule, the official added.