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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
  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. 1HRIDAY, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  2. 2Health Promotion Division, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurugram, Haryana, India
  3. 3World Health Organization, Country Office, New Delhi, India
  4. 4Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  5. 5Onbeyond LLC, Fairfax, California, USA
  6. 6Center 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.

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  • low/middle-income country
  • media

Data availability statement

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

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Data availability statement

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

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  • 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.