Working with colleagues at New Delhi's HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) and WHO, we just published a paper in Tobacco Control: Tobacco imagery in on-demand streaming content popular among adolescents and young adults in India: Implications for global tobacco control.
Background: India implemented tobacco-free film and TV rules (Rules) to protect adolescents and young adults from tobacco exposure.
Objective: To assess tobacco imagery in online series popular among adolescents and young adults.
Methods: Ten popular online series on streaming platforms were identified after discussions with participants (aged 15–24 years) in New Delhi, and content-coded for tobacco imagery following the Breathe California protocol. Incidents of tobacco use and brand appearances in each series episode were counted, and compliance with Indian Rules was recorded.
Results: 188 episodes across 10 series on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were coded. Seven series were rated age 16+, two were 18+ and one was 13+. The median number of tobacco incidents per episode in foreign productions was as follows: Amazon’s "The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel" (87.5, IQR 62.0–116.0) and Netflix’s "The Crown" (29.0, 18.0–36.0) were higher than Indian productions: Netflix’s "Sacred Games" (9.0, 0.5–14.5) and Amazon’s "Mirzapur" (7.0, 4.0–11.0) (p=0.84). Tobacco incidents per hour ranged from 0 ("Bodyguard," "Riverdale," "13 Reasons Why") to 106.1 ("The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel"). Seven of 10 series had tobacco imagery and none were compliant with the Rules.
Conclusion: Contrary to Section 5 of India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, its Rules are not being complied with by the streaming platforms. US-produced streaming media contains more tobacco incidents than Indian-produced media. There is an urgent need for better enforcement of existing Rules on streaming platforms in India, and modernisation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 13 guidelines to account for new streaming platforms to protect youth from tobacco imagery globally.
What this paper adds
• Section 5 of India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) imposes a complete ban on tobacco advertising and promotion in any form of media.
• Streaming is a new form of media popular among adolescents and young adults in India.
• We found that out of the 188 episodes across 10 on-demand streaming series studied, the US produced series – Amazon’s "The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel" and Netflix’ "Narcos" and "The Crown" — had higher tobacco imagery compared with Indian produced series: Amazon’s "Mirzapur" and Netflix’ "Sacred Games."
• Section 5 of COTPA is blatantly being violated in this new media indicating the need for better enforcement of existing rules in India and updating WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 13 guidelines.
Full citation: Arora M, Nazar GP, Chugh A, Rawal T, Shrivastava S, Sinha P, Munish VG, Tullu FT, Schotte K, Polansky JR, Glantz SA. Tobacco imagery in on-demand streaming content popular among adolescents and young adults in India: Implications for global tobacco control. Tobacco Control. Online First. 9 April 2020.