Streaming and OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney Hotstar and others will have to mandatorily show anti-tobacco warnings, similar to the ones screened at theatres and across TV programmes, said the Union Health Ministry in its latest notice on Wednesday.

They should also exhibit an anti-tobacco health warning as a prominent static message at the bottom of the screen when tobacco products or their use are displayed during the programme.

In case platforms or publisher of online curated content fail to comply with the provisions, an inter-ministerial committee, consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, will take action suo motu or “on a complaint”.

After identifying the publisher of online curated content, the inter-ministerial committee will issue notices, giving reasonable opportunity to explain such failure and make appropriate modification in the content.

The notification, made on World No Tobacco Day states that publishers of online curated content must display anti-tobacco health warning of minimum 30 seconds duration at the beginning and middle of the programme, and display anti-tobacco health warning “as a prominent static message” at the bottom of the screen during the period of display of the tobacco products or their use during the programme.

OTTs are also to display an audio-visual disclaimer on the ill-effects of tobacco use, of minimum 20 seconds duration each, in the beginning and middle of the programme.

“The health spots, message and disclaimer shall be made available to the publisher of the online curated content on the website, or,” said the notification.

It has also clarified that the anti-tobacco health warning message “should be legible and readable” with font in black colour on white background and with the warnings ‘tobacco causes cancer’ or ‘tobacco kills’.

Language used

The anti-tobacco health warning message, health spot and audio-visual disclaimer, should be in the same language as used in the online curated content.

The display of tobacco products or their use in online curated content shall not extend to display of the brands of cigarettes or other tobacco products or any form of tobacco product placement and also display of tobacco products or their use in promotional materials.

The Ministry notified the amended rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2004. Under this amendment rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2022 made it mandatory for OTT platforms to show anti-tobacco warnings.