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  • Govt working on ways to stop glamourisation of smoking in films and TV

    Submitted by ITV Production on Sep 28
    indiantelevision.com Team

    NEW DELHI: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is actively working with the Health and Family Welfare Ministry to find ways to prevent glamourisation of smoking in cinema and television.

    Supriya Sahu, Director (Broadcasting) in the I&B Ministry said the Central Board of Film Certification officers were convinced that showing scenes of cinema in feature films could be prevented.

    She said, however, that there more instances of direct or indirect advertising of liquor brands than of cigarette brands.

    She expressed the hope that officials of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry would attend meetings of the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by her Ministry to go into complaints from viewers about television programmes. She said her Ministry was presently monitoring 300 channels round the clock throughout the year.
    Sahu was speaking at a discussion which was part of a one-day National Level Workshop on Prohibition / Restrictions on glamourisation of tobacco usage in films/television organised by the Health Ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the Salaam Bombay Foundation.

    Dr Rakesh Kumar, Director in the Health Ministry, admitted that though it had brought in guidelines against showing scenes of smoking in cinema and TV and later amended them, there had been little implementation. Similarly, he agreed that there was greater need for interaction with the I&B Ministry.

    While admitting that films and TV influenced young children, he said there was need to consider ways of enforcing existing laws or making newer laws. He released ?draft guidelines on monitoring of tobacco usage scenes in films and TV?.

    There was general consensus among all speakers that if smoking scenes were extremely essential to the story of a film, then the filmmaker should voluntarily apply for an ?Adults Only? Certification.

    Dr Barbara Zolty of the WHO said the role of her organisation was limited to creating awareness of the governments after appropriate research to the problems that existed and it was up to the concerned departments to act upon these. She released a study done by WHO on ?Smoke-free movies: From evidence to action?. She also said that she was not in favour of draconian measures but expected filmmakers to get an ?A? certification if a film had to show smoking scenes.

    K Nagaraja who is a Regional Officer in the CBFC said a strong policy decision was needed at the level of the centre in this regard, even as he admitted that there was a provision in the CBFC Guidelines about not showing scenes glamorizing smoking. He said there was a time when only villains were shown having habits like smoking, but now it was normal to even show the central characters and women in such roles.

    Dr P C Gupta of the National Institute of Public Health who initiated the discussion said there were around one million deaths every year. Sadly, he said this was the ?only cause of death which is actually promoted?. There were around 275 million tobacco users in the country and many more were passive smokers forced to inhale tobacco smoke.

    Rekha Nigam, who has written the scripts of a large number of films in Bollywood, said instances of scenes where smoking was essential were very rare for the story of any film and these scenes were added more for glamour. Reacting to an audio-visual shown before the discussion of scenes from around ten films showing the characters smoking, she said there were other ways to show if someone was of loose character or to show glamour or to show rebellion by young people against norms set by their elders. "It is only lazy directors and lazy script writers who put in smoking scenes instead of finding other ways," she said.

    She also claimed that both the tobacco and liquor industries had powerful lobbies in the film industry. She said films generally did offer remedies to problems like smoking, but never went into the root of the problem.

    Supriya Sahu
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