What is COPTA Act? How OTT Platforms are Violating the COPTA Act

Publish Date: 20 Sep, 2022
What is COPTA Act? How OTT Platforms are Violating the COPTA Act

Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA):  The Cigarettes-and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulations of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act was enacted by the Indian government in 2003 as a result of these resolutions. Regulations under the COTPA legislation limit the sale of tobacco products, for example, by forbidding sales in close proximity to school establishments. The act, among other things, sets restrictions on smoking, sales, advertising, and packaging of tobacco products.

Key Features of COPTA Act

  1. According to the COTPA Act and additional guidelines adopted under the act, smoking is not permitted in public areas. Anyone under the age of eighteen should not be sold or given access to tobacco products or cigarettes. The acts carry a maximum fine of Rs. 200 for violations. These offences are compoundable and will be tried in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure's summary trial process. An institution that disobeys these provisions could be fined up to Rs. 200.

  2. No one who works in the production, distribution, or supply of tobacco or tobacco products is permitted to promote tobacco or tobacco products. The act also forbids anybody from taking part in commercials that can directly or indirectly encourage tobacco use, as well as the media from promoting tobacco and tobacco products.

  3. No cigarette promotional films or advertisements for tobacco goods may be screened, distributed, or purchased. The marketing of cigarettes and tobacco is a crime, and individuals who conduct the aforementioned crimes or even those who authorise or permit any of them will be held equally responsible.

  4. The compulsory warning, which contains a skull and crossbones as well as the other necessary warning signs, must be present on every packet of cigarettes or tobacco products. Until the notice is issued, no one is permitted to distribute, trade, or import such cigarettes and tobacco products.

  5. The necessary warning should be displayed on at least one of the package's largest panels where these products are packaged. The maximum permitted limits for each cigarette or packet, as well as the nicotine and tar levels, must be listed on the label of every cigarette and tobacco product.

  6. The authorised authority may enter and search any building, office, factory, business premises, or any other place where any trade in cigarettes or tobacco products occurs, or where the product is advertised, in the prescribed manner and within a reasonable time if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that any provision of this act has been or is being violated. Any search or seizure made in accordance with this legislation is governed by the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure's rules.

  7. It will be confiscated if a cigarette or tobacco packet or its advertisement is shown to be in contravention of the act's rules. The owner of the confiscated property may elect to pay a charge in lieu of confiscation, but the fee must be equal to the value of the confiscated property.

COPTA Act Amendment

The amendment of COTPA proposed by the Ministry of Health disallows the retail sale of loose sticks of cigarettes, prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons below 21 years, and put controls on in-shop advertising and promotion, among others.


COPTA Act Vs OTT Platform

There is an ongoing debate on why there is no warning against tobacco advertising and glamorization of tobacco use in OTT platforms. Ten television programmes with on-demand streaming options like Netflix, Hulu, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and others were examined for their depictions of tobacco use. Each series' tobacco use incidents and tobacco brand usage were tallied, and conformity with Indian Laws was noted. Many of the series featured close-ups of tobacco products and tobacco use, as well as tobacco branding. The 2012 Rules (G.S.R. 786(E)) - notified under COTPA in accordance with the prohibition on tobacco advertising - did not contain anti-tobacco static warning messages, anti-tobacco health spots, or audiovisual warnings concerning the negative effects of tobacco use.


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