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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 466-467

Need for regulation of pan masala advertisements in television media

Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, CSI College of Dental Sciences and Research, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission02-May-2021
Date of Decision16-Aug-2021
Date of Acceptance11-Oct-2021
Date of Web Publication27-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. A Winnifred Christy
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, CSI College of Dental Sciences and Research, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaomr.jiaomr_122_21

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Tobacco industries have resorted to brand stretching to keep their brands visible through sale of non-tobacco products like elaichi (cardamom) and paan masala, as seen in television advertisements aired during Indian premier league matches. The direct and indirect forms of advertisements of tobacco products in digital media remains unchecked. Strict ban should be enforced as these advertisements lure children and the youth into consumption of tobacco products later in life. In addition to providing tobacco cessation services to patients, oral health professionals should be aware of the marketing strategies of tobacco companies so that we can advise governing authorities to enact new laws and enforce existing laws in order to curtail tobacco consumption in our country.

Keywords: Brand stretching, IPL, pan masala, tobacco

How to cite this article:
Christy A W, Raja Devathambi T J, Deepikalakshmi B. Need for regulation of pan masala advertisements in television media. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2021;33:466-7

How to cite this URL:
Christy A W, Raja Devathambi T J, Deepikalakshmi B. Need for regulation of pan masala advertisements in television media. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 7];33:466-7. Available from: https://www.jiaomr.in/text.asp?2021/33/4/466/333859

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the daily activities of mankind, forcing them to stay indoors most of the time. With the Indian Premier League (IPL) 14, the biggest cricket tournament in India, on air, most Indians stay glued to their television screens. Due to the extended lockdown, many schools and colleges have remained closed which allows a lot of school-going children to watch the IPL. Star India, the official broadcaster, has claimed an impressive viewership growth of 24% among children in the last season that concluded in November 2020.[1]

The consumables sector has capitalized on this mass viewership considerably. The very sad part is that, the tobacco industry and its allies also have found a foothold in the advertising arena this IPL season. There were advertisements of multiple brands of mouth freshener on air in television media and one of the them was by one of the principal sponsors of Indian Premier League (IPL) 13. An online search of that brand showed that it is a pan masala containing betel nut, rose petals, and peppermint without tobacco. Betel nut (also known as the areca nut) is a class 1 carcinogen implicated in cancer of oral cavity and esophagus, and a proven causative agent in a potentially malignant disorder called Oral Submucous Fibrosis.[2] Studies have shown that the areca nut is addictive and causes harm to almost all systems of the body.[3]

Moreover, this year a Bollywood actor was seen advertising during IPL matches a premium elaichi product that is produced by a leading tobacco company in the country. This is a perfect example of brand stretching since there has been a ban on direct and indirect advertising of tobacco products from 2003. Specifically, brand stretching occurs when a tobacco brand's name, emblem, trademark, logo or trade insignia, or any other distinctive feature (including distinctive colour combinations) is connected with a non-tobacco product or service in such a way that the the two products are likely to be associated.[4] The elaichi product and the tobacco product produced by the same company has identical font style, design, and colour combination.

According to the Cable Television Network Rules, 1995 (CTNR) of India, TV channels are prohibited from carrying out an advertisement that directly or indirectly promotes sale or consumption of liquor, wine, cigarettes, and tobacco products.[5]

As a result, tobacco companies resort to brand stretching to retain brand recall among customers and also to woo new ones through ad campaigns.

Brand stretching helps in keeping the brand name and image in existing consumers' minds and recruit new customers through brand loyalty. Younger viewers then try to use these products and are at risk of switching to the tobacco products later in life due to brand loyalty. Brand stretching also supports brand equity in other global markets in violation of the restrictions on cross-border advertising under Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).[5]

Article 13 of the FCTC and section 5 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 also prohibits advertising of tobacco products through brand stretching.[6] The inquisitive minds of young children and teenagers may be manipulated into thinking that paan masala is harmless and be indirectly introduced to tobacco products by these advertisements.

Many tobacco and liquor big-wigs have also turned to the internet as a platform to advertise their products. This will also be a menace as many school and college students are learning online for an extended period of time and thus, are prone to fall prey to these allurements. However, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), under the newly notified Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 2019, have drafted guidelines for vigilance of advertisements over the internet and electronic media. Under the new guidelines, brand stretching or surrogate advertisements would be considered as a violation attracting penalties ranging between 10 lakhs and 50 lakhs.[7]

In the current pandemic conditions, many states have banned the sale and use of smokeless tobacco products to contain the spread of infection which is a welcome move and could be made permanent in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The National Tobacco Control Programme by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken the initiative to combat tobacco usage among minors. It includes prohibition of sale of tobacco products to and by any persons under the age of eighteen years, prohibition of sale in an area within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institutions, and erecting a display board at the point of sale and outside education institutions declaring the prohibition of sale and use of tobacco products.[6],[8]

Stricter enforcement of laws are necessary to regulate advertisements of tobacco and brand stretching on all forms of media to save our younger generation from becoming victims to the deceiving tactics of these advertising companies. The existing laws need clarification on advertising of such products in international media. Also as the WHO urges, we need influencers in the media and sports personals to reach out and connect with the youth in order to expose the industry's manipulative tactics and help the youth lead a better and healthier life.

The role of dental professionals in the war against tobacco is manifold. Members of the dental team should understand their potential to guide tobacco users towards better oral and general health. Dentists and the dental hygienists should adopt the 5 As: ask, advise, assess, assist, and arrange while providing tobacco cessation.[9] Dental professionals are in a better position to assess the ill effects of tobacco on oral health and advise patients to quit tobacco consumption. More research should be directed towards the habit pattern of tobacco users; their awareness of the ill effects of tobacco; their knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards tobacco cessation in our country. This will help stakeholders to enact new laws and strictly enforce existing laws to curb the menace of tobacco.

We, as oral health professionals, should be aware of such subtle allures of these advertisements and raise objections through proper channels so that we may protect youngsters from the clutches of tobacco.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Shah G, Chaturvedi P, Vaishampayan S. Arecanut as an emerging etiology of oral cancers in India. Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol 2012;33:71-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
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Garg A, Chaturvedi P, Gupta PC. A review of the systemic adverse effects of areca nut or betel nut. Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol 2014;35:3-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Gupta PC, Arora M, Sinha D, Asma S, Parascondola M. Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health in India. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India; 2016. Available from: https://untobaccocontrol.org/kh/smokeless-tobacco/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2018/06/Final-Version-of-SLT-Monograph.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 4
Yadav A, Ling P, Glantz S. Smokeless tobacco industry's brand stretching in India. Tob Control 2020;29:e147-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Rules, 2005. New Delhi: Government of India; 2005. Available from: https://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/files/live/India/India%20-%20G.S.R.%20345%28E%29.  Back to cited text no. 6
Yadav A, Singh PK, Yadav N, Kaushik R, Chandan K, Chandra A, et al. Smokeless tobacco control in India: Policy review and lessons for high-burden countries. BMJ Glob Health 2020;5:e002367.  Back to cited text no. 8

This article has been cited by
1 Tobacco Industry and Surrogate Advertising in South East Asia Region: Moves and Countermoves
Gayatri Bhatia, Siddharth Sarkar
Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2022; : 0253717622
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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