On Feb 6, 2001 Government of India (GOI) dropped a bombshell on the tobacco Industry when it announced that it would shortly table a bill banning Tobacco Companies from advertising their products and sponsoring sports and cultural events. The objective of such a ban was to discourage adolescents from consuming tobacco products and also arm the Government with powers to launch an anti-Tobacco Program.
This decision seemed to have sparked an intense debate, not just over the ethical aspects of Government's moral policing but also over the achievability of the objective itself. Reacting strongly against the proposed ban, Suhel Seth, CEO, Equus Advertising said, "The ban does not have teeth. It is a typical knee-jerk reaction by any Government to create some kind of popularity for itself.
The Legislation has not been thought thorough". In its reaction to the GOI's decision, ITC Ltd1. announced that it would voluntarily withdraw from all of the sponsorship events, irrespective of the legal position on the subject.
In a statement it said, "ITC believes that this action on its part will create the right climate for a constructive dialogue that will help develop appropriate content, rules & regulations to make the intended legislation equitable and implementable". The complexity of the issue was that, the issue involved the tussle between the ethical and commercial considerations. On the one hand, was tobacco, the most dangerous consumer product known, which killed when used as the makers' intended. Therefore from an ethical standpoint, the Government had to discourage the habit, as it was responsible for the welfare of its citizens.
On the other hand, the tobacco Industry was a major contributor to the State Exchequer (In the Year 2000-01 it contributed about Rs. 8000 crores in excise revenue) which was extremely important, given the financial crunch which it faced. In the light of the above...