Smoking banned in Bollywood films

The Guardian

New Delhi, June 2:

The Indian government is to outlaw all images of smoking in Bollywood films and television shows in a move praised by campaigners as a “sensible step’’ but attacked by film-makers as a curb on artistic freedom. The ban, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, will outlaw shots showing cigarette packs and advertising hoardings. Foreign movies and serials, increasingly popular especially when dubbed into local Indian languages, will have the offending images electronically blurred. The ministry of health said that films predating the ban with offending scenes would need to a run a series of health warnings across the bottom of the screen. It appears difficult to see how the Indian film industry will cope with such strict measures. Film director Shyam Benegal told the Times of India that the regulations would interfere with artistic expression. But the World Health Organisation, which estimates smoking is linked to more than 800,000 deaths in India a year, mainly among men aged between 25 and 69, lauded the move.