Surrogate advertising is a euphemism for alcohol and tobacco companies advertising using innocuous products sharing the brand name of alcohol and tobacco products, but it looks like they are now using unconventional advertising methods to target children. The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act 2003 (COTP) curtails promotion of tobacco in all forms and there are Supreme Court (SC) ruling that bans cigarette smoking within a certain distance from schools.
Hampered by these laws and rulings, cigarette and alcohol companies cook up fictitious products that share brand names appearing to sell sodas, gold accessories, bottled water, airlines, bravery awards, music, etc. In reality, these products either do not exist or is marginally important to the company. But this mechanism gives them access to television, public events, radio, and billboard advertising and sponsorship.
A recent trend is that chewing tobacco companies are targeting rural children by advertising on kites. Since use of tobacco is higher in rural areas and with most of India living in villages, it appears that the tobacco companies want to safeguard their market and inculcate debilitating habits among the young through subliminal and in-your-face advertising. Kites in colored polythene sheets are flooding rural markets across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi with chewing tobacco brands. Among products being advertised are different kinds of gutkas (chewing tobacco mixed with nuts), zarda (an intoxicant), and dry snuff.