Tobacco ads surface in May issues of some mags

MUMBAI: More than a week after the ban on tobacco advertising came into effect, there still seems to be confusion and uncertainty over the dos and don'ts of the ban. Another debate that has risen around the issue is that of the presence of full page colour ads of tobacco products like Gopal Zarda and Babul Zafrani Zarda in the May issues of magazines like Filmfare and Chitralekha.


The Gopal Zarda ad in question in Chitralekha's 3 May issueThe argument that the concerned magazines put forth was that their magazine issue hit the stands almost 10 days before the date of issue which is printed on the magazine. Speaking to, Chitralekha's chief editor Bharat Kapadia explained, "Our 3 May issue which carried the tobacco ads was closed in April and hit the stands on 24 April itself. The magazine issue is dated for our convenience only." Kapadia further said that the ban was on the advertisers restraining them from advertising their product and not on the media.

Chitralekha's one full page colour ad cost Rs 72,500 and with the ban coming into effect the magazine will undergo a revenue loss of almost Rs 4.2 - 4.5 million. "We cannot help the loss of revenue with the implementation of the ban. While there is no substitute for tobacco products, we will try and expand our base to cover up for the loss," said Kapadia. Keeping aside the ban that will monetarily affect him and his magazine, Kapadia who is the chairman of the Advertising Standards Council (ASC) of India is personally in favour of the ban and is happy that it has finally come into effect.

The Babul Zarda ad in the May issue of Filmfare magazine

While no official statement was forthcoming from Filmfare; sources in the magazine did reveal the same as Kapadia that the May issue of Filmfare had already hit the stands in mid-April. A full page colour ad in Filmfare costs as much as Rs 1,40,000. So the loss of revenue can be well imagined.

On the other hand an unforthcoming Outlook vice president advertising R Rajmohan when queried about how stringent the ban seemed to be considering the fact that May issues of some magazines carry such ads said, "I cannot comment on this as I haven't seen the magazines you are referring to." When questioned further about Outlook's policy on the ban Rajmohan said matter of factly, "We will not carry any ads which are banned."

In the wake of this, it may also be recalled that had earlier reported on how the Indian government which brought about this ban on promotional activities of tobacco and tobacco-related products was clueless about the effective implementation and monitoring of the ban and still doesn't have a proper mechanism in place for the same.

Also notable is the fact that Chitralekha's website hosted a cricket contest during the Indo Pak cricket series called 'Live from Pakistan' Cricket IQ series which was sponsored by Babul Zarda (which can still be seen on the website). While this particular contest does not violate any rules since it took place before the ban was implemented, it is a matter of debate whether the ads in the May issue of the magazines breach the law or not.

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