Smoking ban fires up skeptics

Tagore argues for partnership

NEW DELHI — Censor board chief Sharmila Tagore has come out against the Indian government’s recent decision to ban smoking in films and TV serials.

Tagore, an actress, argued that the proposed blanket ban, due to go into effect in August, would be difficult to implement and said Indian filmmakers had already cut down on the portrayal of smoking onscreen.

The government, she added, should instead enlist the filmmakers as partners. “You can’t just slap this on them,” she said.

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry also is against the ban. Even more impractical, a ministry spokesman said, is the health ministry’s demand that smoking scenes in existing movies be erased.

The Cancer Patients’ Aid Assn., however, is wholeheartedly behind the ban.

“There is evidence from other countries that smoking by actors influences the attitudes and behavior of their young fans,” said association director Kiran Hukku.

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