Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Changes in tobacco depictions after implementation of tobacco-free film and TV rules in Bollywood films in India: a trend analysis
  1. Gaurang P Nazar1,2,
  2. Monika Arora1,2,
  3. Nitika Sharma1,
  4. Surbhi Shrivastava1,
  5. Tina Rawal1,2,
  6. Aastha Chugh1,
  7. Praveen Sinha3,
  8. Vineet Gill Munish3,
  9. Fikru Tesfaye Tullu3,
  10. Kerstin Schotte4,
  11. Jonathan R Polansky5,
  12. Stanton Glantz6
  1. 1 HRIDAY, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  2. 2 Health Promotion Division, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurugram, Haryana, India
  3. 3 World Health Organization, Country Office, New Delhi, India
  4. 4 Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  5. 5 Onbeyond LLC, Fairfax, California, USA
  6. 6 Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gaurang P Nazar, HRIDAY, New Delhi, Delhi, India; gaurang{at}


Background India’s tobacco-free film and TV rules were implemented from 2012. To assess the effect of the rules, we studied tobacco depictions in top-grossing Bollywood films released between 2006 and 2017 and rule compliance after 2012.

Methods Tobacco incidents and brand appearances were coded in 240 top-grossing Bollywood films (2006–2017) using the Breathe California method. Trends in number of tobacco incidents per film per year were studied before and after implementation of the rules using Poisson regression analysis. Compliance with rules over the years was studied using Pearson product-moment correlations.

Results Forty-five films were U-rated (all ages), 162 were UA-rated (below age 12 years must be adult-accompanied), and 33 were A-rated (age 18+ years only). Before implementation of the rules, the number of tobacco incidents per film was increasing by a factor of 1.1/year (95% CI 1.0 to 1.2, p=0.002). However, beginning year 2013, the number of incidents per film started falling significantly by a factor of 0.7/year (95% CI 0.6 to 0.9; p=0.012) compared with the previous increasing trend. The percentage of youth-rated (U and UA) films with any tobacco incidents also declined from a peak of 76% in 2012 to 35% in 2017. The percentage of films complying with the rules (audio-visual disclaimers, health spots, static warnings) did not change significantly from 2012 to 2017.

Conclusion India’s 2012 rules were followed by a reduction in tobacco depictions in Bollywood films. Enhanced monitoring of compliance is needed to ensure the continued effectiveness of the rules.

  • advertising and promotion
  • low/middle-income country
  • media

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Readers can be provided access to data upon reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Readers can be provided access to data upon reasonable request.

View Full Text


  • Twitter @still_surbhi, @ProfGlantz

  • Contributors GPN, MA, TR, JRP and SG conceptualised the study. GPN, NS, SS, TR and AC contributed to data collection and analyses. GPN, MA, SG, KS, PS, FTT, VGM and JRP contributed to interpretation of results. GPN, SS, NS and AC drafted the manuscript and all other authors revised the manuscript critically for intellectual content. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The WHO provided technical oversight and support for this study which was conducted by HRIDAY in collaboration with University of California San Francisco and Onbeyond LLC (USA). GPN is supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (MR/P027946/2). The Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP) is a programme of capacity development and research coordinated by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and involves 15 partner institutions from Africa, South Asia and the UK.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.