< New ‘Don’ fumes, clears the smoke, pg.9, Hyd. Edition>
Smoking on screen is a fashion statement aimed at the youth of a country. Clint Eastwood or a Sean Connery with a Cuban cigar in the mouth is a viewers delight. It is a misquoted parable, to say the least; youth taking up smoking are doing it under the influence of cinema. The results of research done on youth in the age group of 18-25 had revealed that most of the smokers got into the habit because of peer pressure. Middle age people smoke to overcome the tension in life. Campaigns by WHO and voluntary organisations about the vagaries of smoking have started to yield the desired results, with reduction in percentage of smokers over the last decade.
There’s nothing undemocratic about granting an ‘A’ certificate to a film showing on-screen smoking scenes contrary to Shah Rukh Khan’s statement as the Government is the biggest spender of National Health programmes. None of the big stars have joined any anti-cancer campaigns in the recent past. The superstars of Hindi cinema are concerned only about box office collections and nothing else.
The new legislations asking the cigarette manufacturers to depict the ill effects of smoking through pictures on the cigarette cartons would definitely encourage the smoker to kick the habit. It would be a goods idea to force the on-screen smoker to compulsorily participate in the anti-smoking campaign through media so long as the film is screened in the theatres. This would result in a win-win situation to the Government, on-screen smoker as well as the production house since the viewer is properly educated in the process.