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Remove cigarette ads or face lawsuit: Delhi govt to Philip Morris

Govt officials say Philip Morris was promoting Marlboro cigarettes by distributing free samples too

Reuters  |  New Delhi 

Remove Cigarette Advertisement
A shopkeeper selling cigarettes waits in his store. Photo: Reuters

The state government in Delhi told International Inc and other companies on Saturday to remove all advertisements from shops in the city, warning them of legal action if they do not comply.

The order, sent by Delhi state's chief control officer S. K. Arora, comes days after Reuters reported that was promoting cigarettes, the world's best-selling brand, by advertising them at shops and distributing free cigarette samples. Government officials say such tactics flout the law.

The strategy was laid out in hundreds of pages of internal documents reviewed by Reuters that cover the period from 2009 to 2016.

Indian officials have previously said advertising using brand names or promotional slogans is illegal under the country's and Other Products Act and its accompanying rules. But and India's leading cigarette maker Ltd say they comply with regulations and that the law allows advertising inside a kiosk.

Arora said the central health ministry had told him that all brand advertisements, irrespective of where they were placed, were not allowed in the country.

and did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

companies have continued to advertise at sale points despite repeated warnings from the Delhi state government in recent years. has been paying a monthly fee to some vendors to display the company's colourful advertisements, the Reuters investigation found.

Arora also told Reuters he "will investigate and conduct raids" to check on the distribution of free at social events. "If violations are found, action as per law will be taken," Arora said.

India enacted its control law in 2003 and has since added rules to strengthen it, but government officials say companies get away with violations because law enforcement is weak.

The central health ministry on Friday said it planned to seek an explanation from and other companies about their marketing practices following the Reuters investigation that was published earlier this week. and did not respond to requests for comment. 

First Published: Mon, July 24 2017. 08:39 IST