Is the film industry being unfairly held responsible for promoting smoking through its movies? Film director and member of the Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India Ramesh Sippy said the law had made the industry the “scapegoat”.
Sippy was speaking at a discussion on Wednesday between members of the film fraternity and the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) on regulations and global policies on the depiction of tobacco in the media.
The meeting was organised by the World Health Organisation and the Salaam Bombay Foundation to discuss the need for collective responsibility to reduce tobacco consumption. Kulmeet Makkar, representative of the Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India, and filmmakers like Mahesh Bhatt and Sippy said the industry was constantly targeted for portraying tobacco consumption.
Prakash Nathan, a UTV media representative also suggested the need for less graphic anti-tobacco advertisements. “My son closes his eyes each time the advertisements play on screen. The government should use ads that portray the ill effects of tobacco consumption more sensibly.”
Shakuntala Gamlin, joint secretary in the MoHFW said, “Creativity should not be shackled, but the film fraternity should work with the government for social sensitisation regarding the tobacco menace.”
Spokespersons from the World Lung Foundation, the NGO Hriday and cancer survivors also spoke out. “Trying to ape heroes who smoke ruined my life. After losing 28 kilos in two years, I got treatment and I am slowly returning to normalcy,” said Amit Salian, a 26-year-old cancer survivor.