27 May 2013
The camouflaged advertisement market has become a top-priority target for anti-tobacco activists
While non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and doctors working against tobacco-use have won the battle in terms of a ban on gutkha in India, NGOs are gearing up to fight the growing market of surrogate advertisements and are spreading awareness of the same.
A surrogate advertisement is one which, on the face, promotes an innocuous product although the brand name , in some way, may remind a person of some other product made out of a harmful ingredient.
Speaking to dna, Anita Peter, director of Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA), said, “This year World Health Organistion’s theme for World No Tobacco day (which will be observed on May 31) is to stop surrogate advertisements and spread awareness of the same. We’re working towards the same and hope people stop using non-tobacco items produced by tobacco companies.”
Concurring with Peter, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate professor at Tata Memorial hospital, said: “I am a cancer surgeon, who has witnessed death and devastation caused by gutkha and pan masala. For me, tobacco trade is a crime against humanity which kills 1million Indians every year. Everyone is aware that the industry targets kids and is notorious for misleading surrogate advertisements. Several labs have shown unlawful toxic ingredients in their products. I’m happy that this year we have surrogate advertisements as the theme.”
The CPAA recently invited the common man to come up with creative advertisements that speak out against surrogate advertisements, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco companies. “The competition saw an overwhelming response and is the first stepping stone for us in reaching out to people. We’re taking help from many Bollywood personalities who are willingly coming forward to spread the message,” said Peter.
She said it is very important for the general public to know that tobacco companies use surrogate advertisements to promote tobacco consumption. “They do this by advertising products like bottled water, lifestyle clothing and zero per cent tobacco (pan masala) etc which not only helps support their interests but also helps cause cancer. We want as many people as we can to join our campaign against tobacco companies and surrogate advertisements,” said Peter.