Anti-tobacco group flays minister’s stand

June 6th, 2009 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh Khan Panaji, June 6 (IANS) An anti-tobacco group, the National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), has taken strong objection to union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s recent statement that there was nothing wrong in showing smoking scenes in movies.
Speaking to IANS Saturday, NOTE general secretary Subhash Salkar said the organisation has appealed to Azad to “change his views”, as cigarettes smoking by film stars on celluloid encouraged their fans to take up smoking in real life.

“It is well known that our film stars have a large number of fans among youths who would copy and imitate the actions of their heroes without giving a thought to the consequences of their actions. This fact is established through surveys of tobacco use and contradicts the view expressed by the minister,” Salkar said.

Speaking at a function in New Delhi on May 31 Azad had said restrictions on showing smoking on screen were not practical.

“It is just entertainment. There are so many objectionable things which are shown on screen like murder, arson and so on… such things should be banned first. I think we should try to implement whatever we can. We cannot do anything which is not practical. Such things (banning of smoking and drinking on screen) are very difficult. Cinema is just to enjoy,” Azad said.

NOTE however argues that movie-goers do get influenced by smoking and drinking scenes in films and try to imitate them in real life.

“We appeal to Mr Azad to change his views on the influence of smoking scenes in movies in order to save the large number of unsuspecting youths from falling in the deadly clutches of tobacco,” Salkar said.

NOTE has in the past dragged Bollywood superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to court for promoting smoking onscreen.

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