TAMIL NADU

Music talent show stopped

Ramya Kannan

It was sponsored by a company that also sells cigarettes



Perceived as big boost to the anti-tobacco lobby in State

Cell had earlier issued notices not to go ahead with programme



CHENNAI: The State Tobacco Control Cell on Sunday prevented a music talent hunt show from taking place, as the event was being sponsored by a company that also sells cigarettes.

It is the first time since the passing of the Tobacco Control Act, 2003, that the State has successfully managed to stop a show that was being sponsored by a tobacco company. It is being perceived as a big boost to the anti-tobacco lobby in Tamil Nadu.

The Cell had earlier issued notices to the company not to go ahead with the programme scheduled to be held on Sunday, as it would be in contravention of the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, 2003. Violations will attract punishments under Section 5, which prohibits advertisement. The penal provisions are contained in Section 22: up to a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1,000. Subsequent violations will invite a five-year period of imprisonment and Rs.5,000 fine.

Director of Public Health S.Elango told The Hindu: “The Act prohibits any form of advertising, including surrogate advertising, for tobacco products. This company, which also produces a brand of cigarettes, Four Square, had advertised heavily its sponsorship of the show “Get Famous” along with the cigarette brand. So, we banned the show.” The cigarette pack contained an entry coupon for the show. Additionally, the advertisements claimed that prizes, including mobile phones, iPods, and memory sticks, would be assured for every purchase of the particular brand of cigarette. As per the law, it is also illegal to offer freebies to promote sales of any tobacco products.

He added that the Cell had been ready, with police support, to disrupt the show if the organisers went ahead despite the warning. However, the show was cancelled by the sponsors themselves, after they were sent warning notices, he added.

In Tamil Nadu, since October 2, 2008, a total amount of Rs.19 lakh has been collected as fines for various violations under the Act, including smoking in public places, selling tobacco products within 100 m of educational institutions, and for not displaying the pictorial warning on cigarette packs.

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