SRINAGAR — In an open violation of government advertisement policy 2012 and COTPA-2003, Jammu and Kashmir Road Transport Corporation (JKRTC) buses in Kashmir can be seen pasted with advertisement of pan masala while the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has shot a letter to the corporation, seeking immediate action against the agency and removal of the advertisements on buses.
The people stated that the advertisement of ‘Vimal Elaichi’ can be seen pasted on the JKRTC buses here, saying that it is a surrogate advertisement for tobacco and demanding it to be pulled down immediately.
They said that as advertisements of tobacco and alcohol products are banned in India, manufacturers are resorting to creative modes of advertising like surrogate products that are clear-cut violations of different acts.
An official said that the advertisements in the guise of selling ‘elaichi’ are aimed at marketing Vimal’s chewing tobacco products.
“Direct and indirect advertisements of cigarette and tobacco products are prohibited under Section 5 of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA),” the official explained.
He said that JKRTC buses are used and seen by thousands of people on a daily basis and youth especially school-going children are 24×7 getting exposed to these surrogate advertisements.
The official said that tobacco is the base of drug addiction and “it is our responsibility to save our people from tobacco initiation as once addicted, it is difficult to bring them out of the vicious cycle.”
Meanwhile, Srinagar Municipal Corporation has taken cognizance of the issue and has written to JKRTC authorities to take action against the advertising agency and issued orders to lift the advertisements from buses.
“In connection to the subject captioned above, in this regard, it has been observed that an advertisement of pan masala (Vimal) on the Buses of JKRTC operational across the Srinagar city and other districts of Kashmir Division for promotional purposes of Vimal Pan Masala and Chaini Chaini which is brand promotions of Tabacco Product and is an indirect advertisement under section 05 of Cigratte and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA-2003) and simultaneously is in violation of section 85, 115 and 116 of Municipal Corporation Act-2000, & violation of government advertisement policy 2011 which prohibits any kind of advertisement, brand promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products,” reads the official communiqué of SMC to JKRTC.
It adds, “The said advertisement glamorizes and promotes the use of tobacco products among young generations which is badly affecting the public health initiatives of government.”
“Therefore, you are requested to please take appropriate necessary action against the advertising agency and issue orders for removing/lifting of advertisement on JKRTC buses immediately in order to curb the advertisement of banned product which conflicts with the section 05 of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA-2003) and in violation of Municipal Corporation Act 2000,” it reads further.
Meanwhile, an official of JKRTC in Srinagar, when contacted, said that in the first instance, they didn’t allow the concerned agency to paste such advertisements, however, later they were directed by General Manager to allow them to paste it as there is no violation in it following which the advertisement was pasted.