Anti- tobacco lobby protest movie with smoking scene


Several organisations in the forefront of the anti-tobacco campaign voiced disapproval about the alleged depiction of smoking and liquor consumption scenes (uncensored) in a Sinhala film being screened islandwide.

The National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), following objections, is planning to request the Censor Board and Arts Council either to delete the scenes or run health risk and warning messages provided by NATA at the bottom of the screen during the entire length of the smoking or drinking scenes.

NATA issued new guidelines to be followed by television channels regarding airing of programmes depicting smoking and drinking scenes from September 1, 2011.

This replaced the mosaics used earlier to cover such scenes.

Broadcasters were instructed to either delete such scenes or carry messages warning of the dangers and ill-effects of tobacco and alcohol when such scenes were aired.

According to NTCA Act No 27 of 2006, advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products and portrayal of smoking and alcohol use in public (either directly or indirectly) is prohibited.

However, there is an ongoing debate on whether such guidelines are applicable to films screened at cinema halls.

NATA chairman Prof Carlo Fonseka said irrespective of what the law says, there was a moral obligation on the part of both authorities and artistes to ensure that such scenes do not promote tobacco and alcohol use.

Prof Fonseka said he received a letter of protest from the Cancer Care Association Head and National Cancer Institute medical officer, Dr Samadhi Rajapaksa who is a prominent social activist.

“The letter was taken up at our board meeting and we decided to forward a request to the Censor Board and the Arts Council on the matter. We also decided to forward a copy to the Attorney General seeking his observations and recommendations,” Prof Fonseka said.

Meanwhile, Dr Rajapaksa said he decided to send a letter of protest to NATA after watching the film during its maiden screening recently