The newspaper advertisements of Madhur Bhandarkar's upcoming movie "Heroine", that features lead actress Kareena Kapoor with a cigarette on movie sets, have drawn flak for blatant violation of anti-tobacco laws.
In a letter written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, NGO Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY) points out violation of law, regulating display of tobacco use in films.
"Leading national dailies (on May 23) and online versions of several newspapers carried an 'on the sets' photograph of 'Heroine'. The picture shows actress Kareena Kapoor smoking a cigarette and holding a glass of amber colour liquid, depicted as alcohol," the letter said.
"This amounts to a blatant violation of the Rule 9(2) of the said notification," the letter addressed to Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, joint secretary in the information and broadcasting ministry read.
The letter cited the notification saying that "any promotional material and posters of the films and television programmes shall not depict any tobacco products or their usage in films".
"It is a violation of Section 5 of Control of Tobacco Products Act, which prohibits all forms of advertisement (direct, indirect/surrogate), promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products."
The HRIDAY letter has also asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), as the implementing agencies of the rules, to direct the promoters and filmmakers to recall the promotional content.
"We strongly urge MoIB to check for the compliance of such scenes with the notified regulations at the time of screening for acquiring certification from the CBFC," it said.
While the movie is slated to release Sep 21, the activists have expressed concern over the promo leaving adverse impact on people.
"We are concerned that till then this photograph would make rounds in the media leaving an adverse impact on the public especially, women and children," said Radhika Shrivastav, deputy director, HRIDAY.
"There is a very high prevalence of tobacco use among Indian women with nearly 20 percent of them using tobacco in various forms. Studies have also shown that Indian adolescents who are exposed to tobacco use in Bollywood films are twice as likely to be tobacco users," Shrivastav added.