Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, May 31, 2002
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Marketing - Brands
WHO hopes Tobacco Bill will tackle `brand sharing'
P.T. Jyothi Datta
NEW DELHI, May 30
EVEN as the proposed Tobacco Bill, banning advertisements of all tobacco products in India, is silent on brand extensions the World Health Organisation (WHO) is hopeful that the legislators would take a stringent view on "brand sharing".
Dr Robert J. Kim-Farley, WHO representative in India, told Business Line that the Bill in its current form had not tackled the issue of "brand sharing".
Elaborating on the tricky issue, of a legitimate business vis-a-vis a lame brand-extension, he said: "If a brand name is strongly associated with a tobacco product and is used for extension or sharing, then there is no legitimacy in the company's claims of the brand only being used for a different line of business." However, he added that quantification was necessary to establish the extent of association.
Besides "brand sharing", he was critical of tobacco companies' attempts to associate itself with sports. "It is time to uncover such cruel deceptions. Such subtle forms need to be touched by the proposed legislation."
The veiled reference was to the Red & White Bravery Awards, Wills Sport Apparels, Cavendars adventure sport and ghutka being sold as brands of pan masalas, a WHO official said.
There are an estimated 2,000 tobacco-related deaths per day in the country, or two deaths every minute. One million smokers join the bandwagon in India every year and the tobacco-related disease burden on the country is estimated to be Rs 27,000 crore per annum.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Bill 2001 the Tobacco Bill is back under the consideration of the Government, after the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha late last year.
The committee had recommended further tightening of the provisions of the Bill, in terms of its coverage. It had also recommended stringent measures to discourage the consumption of tobacco in the country.
The proposed legislation stipulates ban of all forms of advertisements of all tobacco products, prominent display of statutory warning and content of nicotine and tar and prohibition of sale of tobacco products to persons below the age of 18 years.
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