Monday, October 30, 2006

Ban on smoking scenes - Up in smoke?

Dr. A. Ramadoss, Minister for Health & Family Welfare - persisting with impolitic decisions

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Ramadoss, is continuing to play the song of banning tobacco scenes from movies with his out of tune pipe.

During a recent interview on a television channel, he once again tried to present oft repeated, thoroughly unconvincing arguments to justify his position on banning smoking scenes in movies. When the interviewer pointed out that such a step was not taken even in the USA, the Minister countered by saying that he was not bothered about America. Yet, in an earlier comment in the same interview and as far back as in November 2005, he used a study conducted in the USA on a six thousand odd sample to justify why the ban was necessary in India.

In an earlier article, this issue has been discussed threadbare to show that the idea of banning smoking scenes in movies is based not on scientific facts but on conclusions based on conjecture, which do not stand to scrutiny. It bears mention that this is the same Minister who has been going over great lengths to find trifling faults with a scientific and methodical study of potentially harmful contents in soft drinks, in order to delay formulation of standards for the soft drinks.
In the face of such contradictory positions, it would be hard not to see an element of subjectivity influencing his actions in one or both the matters.

Be that as it may, the proposed ban on smoking scenes will most likely run foul of Article 19 of the Constitution, apart from other issues discussed earlier that make the action untenable and unjustified.

M. H. Ambareesh, Minister for I & B - taking a practical view

For the present, while the Health Minister is merrily pursuing his quixotic ideas, Mr. M. H. Ambareesh, the new Minister for Information & Broadcasting has given enough indication that he does not think much of the proposed ban. It can only be hoped that the Minister for I & B will be able to change the view of the Union Cabinet, because according to the Health Minister, it was a collective decision.

If, on the other hand, the Minister of Health would rather have the Courts strike down the action and get egg on the face of the Government, it is another matter.

PRAJATANTRA is against smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption but values the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of India.