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    RTI plea nails smoking ad lie

    MUMBAI: “High on life... less hazardous,’’ screamed an advertisement of a new brand of cigarettes launched in Pune last year. The makers even began an aggressive tele-marketing campaign telling smokers they could quit smoking or cut down on it by switching over to the new brand.

    Health activists say this kind of propaganda is a blatant violation of the Indian Cigarette Act-1975. The Act states: “No package of cigarettes or its label or any advertisement relating thereto shall contain any matter or statement which is inconsistent or detracts from the specific warning.’’

    Anti-tobacco activist Vincent Nazareth filed a complaint in June 2006 with the Juhu police under Section 6 (2) of the Act that said cigarette packets should not have any matter apart from the statutory health warning. The Juhu police, in turn, sent Nazareth’s letter to a public prosecutor and asked for legal opinion about the case. But the public prosecutor said the entire Act had been repealed and so the police could not take any action. Nazareth then filed an RTI query with the Union law ministry and sought to know whether the Act had been repealed; the reply that he got clearly said the Act was very much there.

    “I also found out that, if a particular section of the Act was repealed, it had to be notified and, in this case, there was no such notification,’’ he said. He then approached the Juhu police with this information and the police was forced to file an FIR against the board of directors of the company. The complaint against Golden Tobacco Company has now been taken up by the prosecution department. Superintendent of police, directorate of prosecution, S P Nikam wrote a letter to joint commissioner of police Meera Borwanker, asking why the Juhu police had not arrested anyone and what action had been taken against the board of directors.

    But a GTC spokesperson, dealing with legal issues, insisted that “everything is being done legally’’. “We are being unnecessarily harassed,’’ he added.

    RTI plea nails smoking ad lie-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India


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    Re: RTI plea nails smoking ad lie

    This is an excellent example how RTI can be effectively used for fight against any injustice.

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