Everybody seems to be at the fag end of smoking or at least that’s the impression they want to give. I mean everybody who has taken in by the habit wants to quit. There’s a whole lot of hue and cry that is made of this dirty habit. Ask a smoker and he’ll tell you how dearly he loves his puffs. Yet there are a lot out there who are chain smokers and want to quit. Again you have to ask a chain smoker to understand how difficult it is to quit. Mark Twain’s saying goes well here: “Giving up smoking is easy. I have done it hundreds of times”. It’s often easy said than done. But surprisingly bollywood star Aamir Khan has finally done it. He was one among many stars who have been wanting to kick the butt.
Our Health Minister shot off his mouth recently by publicly insisting Sharukh Khan to quit smoking on screen. It’s an appeal he could have made in private. But his appeal, as the health minister, is valid. According to him public figures like Sharukh and Amitabh smoking on screen can have a negative impression on teenage minds. There’s no second thought on how and what youngsters emulate from their bollywood celebrities or even other celebrities for that matter. So was Sharukh right in refusing to comply by the minister’s appeal? Of course not, he has every right to smoke on screen and probably doesn’t have rights to smoke in public, like all of us (if the implementation of ‘no smoking’ laws are complete in public). He smoking in a hindi blockbuster is creative licence but not lighting up a fag in a cricket stadium, in full public glare. He has to be treated as another Indian citizen, nothing more nothing less. He set a wrong example by smoking in a cricket stadium during a match. It is these appearances where he comes in contact with aam janata and how he behaves and what he does matter here. But it is an entirely different matter if we were to talk movies. No doubt they have a lasting effect, leave alone young minds on mature minds too. When you and I agree that it is fiction in its entirety no one should have a problem in suspending our belief systems for 3 odd hours and let our emotions take over us. That’s after all is the purpose of movies and its entertainment.
Mr Minister, you know how dangerous cigarettes are. But you also know that the tobacco lobby is always influencing you. Will your government stay out of the temptation to earn more and more revenue from tobacco products?