India Intelligence Report

   Smoking Ban in Bollywood Movies


After months of debate and indecision, the Health and the Information and Broadcasting Ministries seemed to have decided that smoking in movies is definitely bad for India and have proposed a series of measures.

Studies have shown that Bollywood movies depicting heroes smoking and drinking as being cool have influenced behavior in India. A World Health Organization (WHO) study has shown that the Hindi film industry’s support for smoking tobacco usage has increased. It said that 89% of films showed prominent characters smoking and shockingly 27% mocked health warnings about cigarettes. Another disturbing trend of this report is how children are influenced by surrogate advertisements and glorification of smoking in movies to pick up a habit that will have a debilitating effect on their health.

Another study found that the major reasons for a high incidence of heart disease in rural India to be a combination of lifestyle issues such as smoking and wrong diet consisting of high salt, oil, sugar, and low fiber foods.
In the proposed measures, movies that depict smoking will:

  • Automatically get an ‘A’ certificate,

  • Require the actor to provide a personal disclaimer, before, during, and at the end of the movie that smoking is bad for health

  • Scenes that depict historical characters should have scrolling lines that should be visible during and 1 minute after the movie that smoking is bad for health

Overall, this is a very good move and the success of this venture depends on implementation. Often movie theaters do not adequately check for the age of the customer so under-age children may end up seeing a movie anyway. Just like the smoking ban in public places is a farce, this law may also be whittled down by unscrupulous theater operators who may cut out these warnings either directly or indirectly.

The bill needs to address these issues too.

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