Role of Print Media in Tobacco Control in Mumbai India Literature Review

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Mumbai Tobacco: Role of Print Media in Tobacco Control in Mumbai, India

The tobacco industry represents one of India's greatest dilemmas. Simultaneously a major domestic commodity and a threat to the health and well-being of India's general population, tobacco use has largely penetrated Indian culture in spite of the development of global and domestic policies aimed at curtailing its usage. Among the most aggressive of tactics adopted by the Government of India is its ban on media advertising for tobacco companies, which responds to the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of tobacco in India's advertising media. In principle, this policy initiative represents a major step in the fight against an addiction which annually causes millions of fatalities worldwide. In actuality, the literature review conducted hereafter demonstrates, this policy initiative has been pointedly weakened by the absence of meaningful enforcement measures and by the sociocultural penetration of positive imagery relating to tobacco usage. The study hereafter considers that this positive image is the outcome of a high level of saturation of tobacco advertising in various modes of print media and that an intervention in which this image is countered by a more realistic print media portrayal could help to significantly reduce the cultural status of tobacco in Mumbai.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Literature Review on Role of Print Media in Tobacco Control in Mumbai India Assignment

The research will first provide some basic background on the preeminence of the tobacco industry in India. Subsequently, the discussion will identify tobacco usage as a public health problem for India. The following section would remark on the prevalence of tobacco usage and the tobacco industry in India. Subsequently, the research would identify the sociocultural dimensions of this issue such as the targeting of impoverished and uneducated consumers and the marketing of tobacco to children. Finally, the discussion will consider the role of the media both generally and specific to the print context in order to identify the nature of tobacco coverage -- both in terms of its positive portrayal of tobacco and in terms of its heavy saturation -- as well as to describe an intervention that would counter this with a more realistic print portrayal of tobacco and a counterbalance to the visibility of pro-tobacco messages.

Tobacco As a Problem:

Tobacco use in India is a significant public health problem. Cigarette smoking in particular is a significant presence in Indian culture and carries with it significant consequences for the health and well-being of the general population. Based on currently available statistics, it can be asserted that India is among the most heavily cigarette-addicted nations in the world. Quite to this point, Bansal et al. (2005) report that "India is the second largest producer and third largest consumer of tobacco worldwide. Of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, 182 million (16.6%) live in India accounting for consumption of 102 billion cigarettes per year." (Bansal et al., p. 201)

This reflects a serious public health crisis, levies a great toll on the public health system of India and denotes an issue problematically connected to India's commercial and consumer economies. It is for this reason that the efforts of the global community and the World Health Organization have focused on a collective policy adoption which would significantly impede on the ability of tobacco companies to market their product. According to the report by PTI (2010), "a WHO Treaty in 2003, ratified by 160 countries, recommended imposing a complete ban on advertising, promotion and marketing of tobacco products. Only 26 countries have done so, it said." (p. 1)

India is among those which would pass penetrating laws adhering to the new standards promoted by the WHO. Still, even with a total ban on cigarette advertising in the media, advertisers have had little difficulty remaining salient in the public sphere. Accordingly, John (2010) reports that "India banned tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship across all media in 2003, but tobacco companies continue to promote their products on public transport and storefronts." (p. 1)

Today, cigarette advertising, marketing and promotion remain vital and omnipresent in India and in the city formerly known as Bombay. According to Gupta et al. (2005), Mumbai "is a large, densely populated metropolitan city (density 16-461 inhabitants per km2) with a population of 9.93 million (1991 census). It is divided into three parts: the main (island) city, suburbs, and extended suburbs." (p. 1396). Modern day Mumbai is a city of prolific growth, is a center of commerce and can be seen as a cultural barometer for much of the nation of India. Accordingly, the high saturation of tobacco advertising and marketing is demonstrative of patterns impacting much of the country.

Indeed, the focus of this research on the intercession of media, politics and culture suggests that these dimensions have become inextricably linked with the marketing of tobacco products -- and cigarettes in particular. Quite to the point, the focus of policy initiative, as we will investigate in the subsequent section of the literature review, is on altering the advertising practices that appear so closely linked with the patterns of cigarette usage in mainstream culture. The literature review conducted hereafter takes a particular interest in considering each of these dimensions in and of itself as a way of producing an encompassing understanding of the tobacco problem in India and efforts to intervene there with.

A specific emphasis on Mumbai extends from the observation that this most populous city of India, and the second most populous city in the world suffers from a serious permeation of tobacco use in a multitude of forms. According to the study by Gupta et al. (2005), Mumbai residents reported high levels of malady and fatality as these related to tobacco use. In particular, Gupta et al. found that "the risk of deaths from respiratory diseases (RR 2.12, 95% CI 1.57 -- 2.87), tuberculosis (RR 2.30, 95% CI 1.68 -- 3.15), and neoplasms (RR 2.60, 95% CI 1.78 -- 3.80) were significantly higher in male smokers than never tobacco users." (Gupta et al., 1395)

Women too are evidenced to be vulnerable to and impacted by the permeation of tobacco use. Sorenson et al. (2005) report that though considerable variation may be observed based upon region and geography, "about one third of women use at least one form of tobacco, although rates among women vary considerably by region (from approximately 15% to approximately 65%). In general, cigarettes account for an estimated 20% of tobacco consumption; about 50% of tobacco is consumed in the form of bidis, that is, traditional, leaf-wrapped unfiltered cigarettes." (p. 1004) Though considerably lower than the penetration amongst men, which Sorenson et al. list as having 65% usage penetration, this denotes a public health problem which does target female users in growing numbers.

Ultimately, this also underscores the fact that India is contending with a major healthcare crisis where tobacco use and addiction are concerned.


The tobacco industry is both extremely powerful and extremely profitable in India. Its prevalence is considerable in the discussion over policy implementation, in the defining of India's culture and in the landscape of its media. Today, this prevalence is being held up to the light of policy discussion. Wrangling over policy issues in India demonstrates the intense pressure under which the government has attempted to achieve some level of compromise between tobacco's economic prevalence and its medical consequences. The powerful interests of tobacco companies run directly contrary to public health priorities. Therefore, various policy interventions instigated by popular outcry and public interest have been designed in particular to impose upon the influence rendered by tobacco advertising efforts. Critical among recent policy developments, Citizen News Service (CNS) (2010) reports on recent legislation requiring tobacco companies to use 'pictorial health warnings' on packs of cigarettes. This issue, CNS reports, demonstrates the continuing uphill climb for legislators in the face of intense tobacco industry pressure. Accordingly, CNS reports that "in a detractive decision of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (GOI), the implementation of new pictorial health warnings has been deferred to December 1, 2010 from the earlier commitment of introducing them from June 1, 2010." (CNS, 1)

This denotes the difficulty that the GOI has had in taking a firm stance with the tobacco lobby. This is a conversation that takes on added importance as we consider the difficulty with which the GOI has addressed issues of advertising in the print media context. As this review ultimately demonstrates, legal efforts to curtail the visibility of tobacco in print advertising have been limited in their effectiveness. Its enormous influence in India and its wealth of legal resources make the tobacco lobby a formidable political force. CNS reports that a public health advocacy group called the Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control (AFTC) has taken a lead role in calling for a more meaningful intervention effort on the part of the GOI. AFTC is an assembly of various groups located in India and collaborating on the efforts to research and address the impact of tobacco use on the health, policy and economy of the nation.

According to one of its representatives, the recent delay in implementing… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Role of Print Media in Tobacco Control in Mumbai India.  (2010, July 26).  Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

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"Role of Print Media in Tobacco Control in Mumbai India."  July 26, 2010.  Accessed December 2, 2021.