It is not celebrities but movies against which I have come down strongly. Movies are more a way of life for Indians, and people are greatly influenced by the stars. We have statistics to prove this.
To begin with, in the 1950s and 60s, only 30 percent of the movies had scenes depicting smoking and it was the villains who smoked. But in 2005, 89 percent of the movies had such scenes and 76 percent of these scenes were enacted by heroes or heroines.
We also have blatant statistics to show how children aged 11 to 13 years start smoking. The survey says that 52 percent of the cause is attributed to movies, 18 percent to parents and 15 percent to peers. If 52 percent of the children are influenced by movies then we certainly need to take some steps.
Some measures have been already taken. For instance, the Indian Cinematographer’s Act of 1952 bans scenes depicting smoking. In 2003, WHO held a campaign for smokeless movies. In India, we have banned all forms of advertising of tobacco products, so now the tobacco companies are trying to do it through movies!