Delhi: HC dismisses plea seeking ban on display of images in anti-tobacco ad campaign at cinemas

delhi hc

The Delhi High Court dismissed a petition seeking an order prohibiting the use of graphic imagery in anti-tobacco health spots/advertisements played before and during film screenings in cinema halls, on television, on OTT platforms, and other audio-visual mediums of screening/streaming movies on Wednesday.

The Petitioner Divyam Aggarwal, a practising advocate, contended that “compulsorily showing these graphic images to non-smokers while watching movies in their leisure time affects their fundamental right to leisure under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

However, the bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition, citing a policy decision.

The plea further stated that these “health spots show close-up images of mouth cancers, surgical procedures, disfigured body parts, blood, etc., which are similar to those found on the tobacco packaging and which are not really necessary to push the message of quitting tobacco/smoking, and these gross images shown in these health spots leave a lasting distasteful impact on the minds of the viewer and thus tend to spoil the entire movie watching experience of the viewers like the Petitioner, which is a violation of the fundamental ‘Right to leisure’ of the Petitioner.”

“The Petitioner, being a non-smoker and not a consumer of any tobacco products, is wrongfully subjected to the compulsory watching of these graphic images in the anti-tobacco health spots during a film in the cinema hall and during TV programmes at home,” it said.

“The content of these ads is aimed at people who are smokers and tends to appeal to them to quit smoking/tobacco, but it is the non-smoker who also has to go through the unpleasant images displayed in these ads,” the plea said.