Fighting tobacco just got harder
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Director Anurag Basu, a cancer survivor, strictly adhered to the COTPA rule of displaying anti-tobacco health messages and getting actor Ranbir Kapoor read out the disclaimer 'smoking is injurious to health' in Barfee!
But with the amended COTPA rules coming into effect on Tuesday, anti-tobacco campaigners and doctors say it would be another long struggle to ensure implementation of anti-tobacco laws. The amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce) Act - COTPA - notified last month does away with Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) deciding on 'A' certification for movies that promote use of tobacco.
"They have even dropped the condition where actors read out a disclaimer on the ill effects of smoking," says Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital who spearheaded campaigns against tobacco.
He says the notification says the Ministry of Health will produce an audiovisual disclaimer and send it to the Censor Board for use by filmmakers where the actor is unavailable for the disclaimer. "It is a step backward in our campaign and the struggle will intensify further," says Chaturvedi.
ENT specialist Dr Vandana Joshi, who had set up PACE (prevent addictions through child education) along with other doctors says tobacco smoking has gone up among children as young as 12 years old. "I have distressed parents coming to my OPD and do not know how to handle the problem," says Joshi whose PACE has reached out to 40 schools in and
Cutting down on smoking can reduce heart attacks by 25 per cent particularly among young individuals and non-smokers and as per the World Health Organisation, 80 per cent of the heart problems can be avoided by lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, proper diet and exercise.
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