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Changes in tobacco depictions after implementation of tobacco-free film and TV rules in Bollywood films in India: a trend analysis


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

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

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