‘Thumbs down’ to B’wood films showing tobacco use

Out of 31 films reviewed so far,only 13 films have received thumbs up

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Published: May 31, 2013 12:40 pm

Nearly 60 per cent of Bollywood films including blockbusters released over the past five months have shown smoking scenes in violation of rules regulating depiction of tobacco use in films,says a study.

Student volunteers from over five schools and four colleges watched 31 movies in the past 5 months to assess tobacco use incidents and compliance with newly notified film-related Indian tobacco control laws. “Out of the 31 films reviewed so far,only 13 films have received a ‘thumbs up’ with the remaining 18 films getting a thumbs down which means nearly 60 per cent of the films haven’t complied with the rules regulating depiction of tobacco use in films,” says the study.

The review began with blockbuster films like Jab Tak Hai Jaan,which received a ‘Thumbs up!’ The film starring Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif got approval for “adhering to film related laws…which includes a 20 second audio-visual disclaimer and a 30 second health spot before and in the middle of the film as well as a static health message at the bottom of the screen each time during the period of depiction of tobacco use on-screen,” the study observed.

Whereas the Ajay Devgn-Sonakshi Sinha film Son of Sardar released in November 2012 received a “thumbs down!” since “there was no anti-tobacco static warning message displayed at the bottom of the screen during the period of depiction of tobacco products. No audio-visual disclaimer shown at the beginning and middle of the movie.”

Some of the other films that were monitored include Talaash,Dabangg 2,Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola among others.

The study is based on results of on a ongoing monitoring campaign “Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down” by the NGO HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) in technical collaboration with the University of California.

“Despite the regulations,tobacco advertising,promotion and sponsorship is very rampant and youth centric. According to a recent study by us,the current use of tobacco was five times higher in students who were highly receptive to tobacco advertising than those who were least receptive,” says Monika Arora,senior director,HRIDAY. “Surrogate advertising,brand extension and brand promotion by tobacco companies are areas of key concerns which need to be regulated to effectively implement a complete ban on TAPS,” she says.

A government notification,which came into effect from October 2,2012 laid down rules on how to depict smoking scenes in films and television serials in accordance with the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and regulation of Trade and Commerce,Production,Supply and Distribution) Act,2003. The theme of the World No Tobacco Day 2013,which falls on May 31 is ‘Ban Tobacco Advertising,Promotion and Sponsorship’ (TAPS).

The “Thumbs Up and Thumbs down” campaign,supported by World Health Organisation ¿ Regional Office for South-East Asia,involves inculcating critical watching and advocacy skills among youth by engaging them as film reviewers. The youth have been sensitised to count the number of incidents and assess other related aspects while watching the film,in accordance with a comprehensive review protocol. Scoring for the campaign has been based on – Number of incidents of tobacco use on-screen,the viewers’ perception about tobacco use on-screen and compliance with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s newly notified rules on depiction of tobacco use in films.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2009-10,nearly 15 per cent youth currently use tobacco in India.

“Many teenagers light their first cigarette after watching their favourite actor smoke on screen!” according to an official from HRIDAY. Recently,school children associated with HRIDAY’s programme wrote to Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor urging her to forgo depiction of tobacco use in her film Heroine. “The makers of the film responded by lending her voice to a recorded warning at the beginning of the film,” said the spokesperson of the NGO.

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