Removal of scroll will be a big setback in tobacco control efforts, say activists
Mumbai, April 9th: Tobacco control activists across the country are up in arms against the government’s willingness to remove the anti-tobacco scroll in movies. NGOs and public health professionals alike have come up strongly and are vehemently opposing the government’s soft stand taken on issues related to tobacco control in recent times that seemingly favour the pro-tobacco lobby.
Devika Chadha, Vice President - Operations, Salaam Bombay Foundation, says “The removal of the anti-tobacco scroll will be a big setback to our tobacco control efforts. Indian movies and actors have very strong influence on youths. Understanding the fact, the pop-up warning spots were introduced. Restricting exposure of children and adolescents to tobacco on films/television is the single most effective public health intervention any society or government can make.”
Tobacco control activists, already upset over a series of gaffes by senior political party leaders, hint at a pre-meditated advocacy program being implemented by the pro-tobacco lobby
As per Union health ministry guidelines, a pop-up message against smoking has to be shown whenever there is any scene in a film depicting smoking. The plea by the filmmakers comes even as a controversy has been sparked over remarks by political parties on the use of tobacco.
India has the largest film producing industry and films that play a major role in the process of social change. Their impact on young minds cannot be ignored. There are several empirical studies and global evidences which show that depiction of tobacco usage in movies increases the risk of initiation of tobacco use among the usage in an indirect manner.
Salaam Bombay Foundation started in 2002 to work with children in Mumbai’s slums. These children live in extreme poverty and in “at risk” environments. They drop out of school, face the risk of child labour and substance abuse, tobacco use in particular. We work with these 'at risk' children in programmes that engage them through in-school programmes (leadership and advocacy) and after school academies (arts and sports) that help build their confidence, self-esteem and recommit them to stay in school. We are currently in over 200 schools in Mumbai.
The Harvard School of Public Health has studied our model and found that children in Salaam Bombay's programmes have greater ambition and over 90% commit to finishing school. They have higher self-esteem and confidence than their peers and have lower tobacco use rates not only compared to other children but also less than one-third of the national average. Now that they are staying in school, we are confident that there is hope for their future.
Salaam Bombay Foundation – A Child In School Has A Future