Indian advocacy group urges Woody Allen to accept display of anti-smoking messages across latest film

A New Delhi advocacy group that provides health information to young people has written to the Hollywood director, Woody Allen, urging him to release his latest film, Blue Jasmine, in India. Allen recently pulled the film from the country’s cinemas because India’s anti-tobacco laws require a static anti-smoking warning to appear on screen whenever a character lights up.

India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Amendment Rules 2012, which came into effect in September last year, state that cinemas must run a health warning at the bottom of the screen every time a character uses a tobacco product. The rules also require cinemas to run anti-tobacco advertisements at the beginning of the film and halfway through.

A 2011 study published in Tobacco Control found that adolescents who had high levels of exposure to smoking in films were twice as likely to try a tobacco product in their lifetime as teenagers who had little exposure.

Several Hollywood films released in the past year were shown in compliance with the new law and fared well at the box office.

KK Aggarwal, a doctor and anti-smoking campaigner, said that warning messages were important and acted as a deterrent.

BMJ 2013; 347:f364

Editorial comment: An interesting development in India. Perhaps one that we should follow in this country. Paul Walker

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