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Smoke and lecture on screen

New Delhi, Jan. 16: The next time you see your favourite actor smoking on screen, don’t be stunned if he lectures you on the ill effects of tobacco use as well.

The Centre today told the Supreme Court it had advised filmmakers to make an actor taking a puff deliver a 20-second anti-smoking message by voiceover in the beginning and middle of a film.

Additional solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran told a two-judge bench the I&B ministry had written to the Central Board of Film Certification last August urging it to advise filmmakers about such a message and that the proposal had been approved by the health ministry.

“It was decided to advise filmmakers to give a 20-second anti-smoking message as approved by the ministry of health with voiceover of one of the actors who is seen smoking in the film to be displayed at the beginning and in the middle (after interval) of the film and a static anti-smoking message to be displayed for the duration of the smoking scene in the film.

“On the basis of this letter, the government is proceeding to issue a notification. The same is in the final stage and after the requisite formality is to be gazetted,” the Centre stated in its submission before the bench.

The government had tabled a new advisory for filmmakers in a special petition it filed in the apex court challenging a Delhi High Court order that quashed the Centre’s rule banning use of cigarettes and tobacco products in TV programmes and films.

In January 2009, the high court had quashed Section 4(6) and other rules of The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement) Act, 2003, which mandated a total ban on display of tobacco products and their use in films and TV programmes.