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‘Stop Smoking’ Commercials Are Still On For Cinema Halls. But Does It Make Any Sense?

Gone are the days, when people used to walk into the movie halls and watch their films from the start till the end in a peaceful manner. At that time, the routines and processes were simple. They just had to settle down in their seats, lights would be dimmed, few commercials and mainly public service advertisements used to flash on the cinema screens, including the film teasers that the people were looking forward to watch in the next week. All was simple and easy as a pie.

But now, things are not same like before. Recently, such things came into being which might be taken as helpful, but are not. The movie halls are nowadays showing all kinds of random warnings, ranging from hints about buying the life insurance for the loved ones, the need for giving polio shots to the children, and more importantly, those annoying anti-smoking commercials or stop tobacco advertisements which display the hazards of cigarette smoking and consuming harmful tobaccos, just right before the film starts.

Now, the big question that arises is, who actually bothers about commercials and advertisements? If not 100% but at least 80% of them don’t give a heed to such warning advertisements and just reluctantly wait for the movie to start. Well, it can definitely be agreed that these public service ads are actually put together in the cinema screens to give some remembrance to the people that life is really very important. But the endorsement of such ads don’t really prove that people are going to follow it the very next day. Then why and what’s the need to show such advertisements which have no fruitful outcome for the viewers.

As it is, smoking is injurious to health, but in actual how many people are following it? It is just because such addictions are very hard to shake off. India is in the deadly grip of the tobacco epidemic, extreme alerts shall definitely be rung to make the people aware of the tremendous condition. Both smokers and tobacco users are going side by side, according to some studies.

It is also being witnessed that some smokers are also using smokeless tobacco like “zarda” and “gutkha” in India, with a massive 275 million users all over. Tobacco is the giant killer, it is estimated that those who are suing tobacco or consuming it will cause more than 1.6 million deaths in the country annually by 2020. Making awareness and raising such issues to help the users give up the habit is definitely fair enough. But it is certainly not relevant to flash a ticker on cinema screen every time. Surely, the government thought that this idea will prove a miracle cure for this complicated problem, which sometimes also results in a disease called cancer.

If we certainly go by the logic, all Indian citizens who go to the movie halls to watch a movie on the big screen must be trying to quit smoking or using tobacco in order to follow the message given there. The message must be surely pulling strings on people’s mind, as the “Smoking Kills” word in big bold letters flashes and pops-up, at least, a dozen times during the film’s three-hour general running time. But before we realise, we see some people (at least as far as I witnessed) are getting out of the hall in between or during the intervals to smoke a cigarette and come back in a while. Now, if the ads still don’t look like a waste of time, then how come those people are going and sustaining their smoking times even after seeing those commercials for so many times?

Throughout the pop-up, the short ticker really does a good job buzzing around almost like a fly and annoying the audiences who try to follow the movie’s plot. The anti-smoking advertisements are definitely annoyance at its best. It actually serves no such real purpose except to break the sustainability of the film going on almost bashing the moviegoer’s concentration, inviting curses from directors of those films. The commercials are doing nothing but destroying the lifetime hard work of the movie makers that has no sense of time and place and doesn’t really contribute in changing people’s long earned addictions.

If that is the case, why the government is not banning the cigarettes yet? It was found that “Maggie” contains lead and it is harmful to the kids, so the government banned it to lessen the intake of such harmful products. Then how come cigarettes and tobaccos became one of the healthy products among them?

Instead of increasing the price of those products, the government should prohibit the sales of such rather than showing it as a ticker on the big screen. It seamlessly destroys the storylines with such ads inside the cinema hall. The government should definitely go for some effective methods to enforce and enhance the tobacco and cigarette control laws, just like tightening up the rules and regulations, especially regarding the production and sales and making almost some important places to be smoke-free zone. There have been many such initiatives, proposals, and suggestions to ban cigarette smoking and using tobacco, not just in public which many do not follow, but also in some places where they do not require doing so. Things are definitely going to change, once and for all, if the right steps are taken up by the government properly.

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