Dr Ramadoss firm on on-screen smoking stand

Mumbai: The Union Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss has reiterated his opinion that film stars, who are brand ambassador for health programmes like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Polio Campaign, should avoid smoking on screen.

He mentioned that he is personally not against movies but actors should kick the butt on screen since movies contribute to almost 52 per cent of promotion of the killer habit.

Ramadoss said, "India should not only be smoke free but it should be comprehensively tobacco free."

Addressing a gathering of students at Delhi University, Ramadoss praised the Delhi University Student Union initiative of smoke free campus and promised that soon a smoking cessation centre will operate in the campus.

Mentioning the Chandigarh’s decision to go smoke free, Ramadoss informed that the Delhi Chief Minister has committed to make Delhi smoke free before the Commonwealth Games in 2010. He also announced the Government’s decision of complete banning of smoking in all the buildings public or private. He emphasized the need to strictly implement the anti-tobacco laws.

Citing the examples of Irish pubs and French Cafes, the Health Minister said he is confident that with strong will and awareness, it is possible to eliminate deep-rooted evils. He expressed confidence that anti-tobacco efforts will be able to overcome internal and external oppositions.

Ramadoss informed that smoking causes about one million deaths every year in India and has emerged as the biggest killer and cause of problems like indebtedness and domestic discord. With the largest population of youth, India needs to go all out against the tobacco use. He said through National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), the Government is targeting schools as well as colleges to protect the health and well being of the young population.