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Dishoom poster showing John smoking kicks up a rumpus

New Delhi, Aug 4, 2016, DHNS 0:21 IST
Dishoom has violated the anti-tobacco law as it prominently shows the lead actor John Abraham smoking in the poster.
The latest Bollywood potboiler Dishoom has violated the anti-tobacco law as it prominently shows the lead actor John Abraham smoking in the poster.

This is in contravention of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, says a group of public health specialists, who alerted the health and information and broadcasting ministries on Wednesday.

“The actor (John Abraham) shown smoking in the film poster is highly recognised and considered a role model for many young people in India. Therefore, the glamorous depiction of tobacco use by the actor defeats the entire purpose of adopting the rules under Section 5 of COTPA,” Monika Arora, executive director of HRIDAY, a non-government anti-tobacco body wrote in her letter to the ministry officials.

Produced by Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment company, the movie starring Abraham and Varun Dhawan was released last week. A box office hit, the film’s posters are widely displayed at all public places across the country.

One of the anti-tobacco rules under COTPA states that “Promotional material and posters of film and television programmes shall not depict any tobacco products or their usage in any form.” The poster in question is a gross violation of this rule.

“In fact, there is a proven link between youth behaviour in India and Bollywood films. Many teenagers light their first cigarette after watching their favourite actor smoke on-screen,” said Arora, who also heads the health promotion division at the Public Health Foundation of India.

An expert panel, chaired by noted film maker Shyam Benegal, recently reviewed the tobacco use scenes in the film, which remains a matter of contention between the film makers and public health advocates.

The government, however, is yet to take a decision on the Benegal panel's recommendations.

Public health studies in the past had illustrated how kids exposed to films with tobacco use scenes are twice as likely to become tobacco users as compared to non-viewers of such films. India has a high prevalence of tobacco consumption. Nearly 10 lakh Indians die every year due to tobacco use.

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