Amitabh Bachchan is in news again. I read this report in Hindu today which said he has been sent a legal notice for posing with a cigar in his mouth for a promotional poster of a soon to be released film Family.
I wonder at times if rules of this kind can ever prevent youth who want to start smoking, from not doing so. There’s definitely a big question mark!
Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Most of us who have ever seen a cigarette packet must have had read this. These statutory warnings intend to produce the same effect as the ban on printed advertisements showing anyone smoking. The intended effect is to prevent the Indian youth from taking up smoking and to make those who smoke quit. I read a book recently called The Tipping Point which among other things, discussed the smoking habits of Americans. One point brought about in the book that really makes a lot of sense is: guys start smoking mostly because of one main reason. They think smoking is cool. It’s a case of pure peer effect. Every one wants to be cool. One more great observation by the author was that most of them who smoke are already well aware of the dangers of smoking. Not only that, majority of the smokers in fact over estimated the dangers in one of the surveys conducted. So this whole requirement of a statutory warning on all tobacco product packets is a useless a means to achieve any reduction in the public habit. And I think, the assumption that banning of smoking in print can be any more effective than printing statutory warnings, is hardly true.
One might argue that when the big B himself smokes on screen, isn’t he making smoking appear cool? I say, why do you forget he is a non-smoker in real life at the first place? To some extent stars smoking on screen do influence the youngsters but mind you, just ‘to some extent’. A ban on print is definitely not a good solution. By imposing a ban on a movie-ad showing a character of the movie smoking, too much of a hindrance is offered to the creators of the movie. Let them show what they want to and let the junta decide if its good or bad. Why bound the aritstic creativity of the actors and the directors? Just for that ‘some extent’, for which no stastical data was ever quoted by the government while imposing such a ban? This is not fair.
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