Australia pulls out Indian gutka ad

Kamla Pasand had boundary line advertisements in India-Australia matches

By Sonal Matharu
Published: Friday 10 February 2012

The recent India-Australia cricket matches drew angry protests from anti-tobacco activists. The reason was the display of an advertisement by an Indian chewing tobacco company. The Australian cricket administrators were quick to react and have ordered the immediate removal of the advertisement.

A boundary line advertisement of Kamala Pasand chewing tobacco was on display during the test series in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide held between January and February 2012. The advertisements were again displayed at the two T-20 international matches and a one-day international match played at MCG in Melbourne.  Kamla Pasand is an Indian company that sells gutka.

An anti-smoking group, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), brought this to the notice of the Cricket Australia and also raised the matter with the Indian government.

The company could face a fine of up to $66,000 for this offence under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 of Australia. The Act bans all forms of tobacco advertising. The Australian government is also considering banning the use of tobacco industry logo, brand imagery and even product names under the Act, notes Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), a non-profit that supports ASH.

“Big applause to the Australian government for taking timely action,” says Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director, VHAI. Tobacco companies continue to target people, especially youth by making use of surrogate means to advertise tobacco products, she adds.

India has the highest prevalence of oral cancer globally, with 75,000 to 80,000 new cases being reported every year. Chewing tobacco is the cause behind 90 per cent of oral cancer cases, notes a National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) study held in 2011.

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