Wednesday 24 April 2024

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Issues | Smoking

Winston man says NO to killer puff

 

"Tobacco is a killer industry. How the Indian democracy allows its government to finance and promote such an industry", asks famous Hollywood star Alan Landers. He has made several valid suggestions to put curbs on it.

Known as ‘Winston Man’ in late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a favourite model of Winston cigarettes, 57-year old Landers has today dedicated rest of his life to fight against tobacco, posing his own example before the young generation.

Being a chain smoker right from his teenage days, the famous Hollywood star-cum-model-cum-acting teacher had to undergo two surgeries for lung cancer within a span of five years, by the time he reached 50. In addition, a nerve leading to his vocal cord was cut while he also suffers from emphysema.

Fifty per cent smokers will have at least 20 years of premature death, he claims, as the tobacco industry uses all kind of deadly substances including vinegar, nail polish, toxic acid, ammonia, motor or rocket fuel, cyanide, gasoline, insecticide and even rat poison, besides nicotine.

"Looking back on my career, I am ashamed that I helped promote such a lethal and addictive product to the children and adults. Had I understood then what I now understand - that cigarettes are an addictive poison that kills almost 50 per cent of their users - I would never have participated in their mass marketing", he says with conviction.

During his tour to India organised by National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication, Landers has appealed not to conduct any sports event sponsored by tobacco industry or allow any billboards or advertisements through television, radio or newspapers. "It’s blood money", he quips.

Exposing the democratic government’s dual role, Landers wonders how government-controlled financial institutions could hold 34 per cent shares in India’s four major tobacco firms while an institution like the Life Insurance Corporation, which protects your family after your death, has invested Rs 19 crore in a killer industry.

It’s ridiculous, he says, that free of cost water and power is provided and export incentives are given to the tobacco industry while around 2000 scientists and technicians are engaged by agriculture ministry’s Tobacco Control Board to help the private tobacco industry.

While ministry of finance gives all sorts of concessions to the tobacco industry, he asks why no budget allocation is made to help anti-tobacco campaign when death rate due to tobacco usage is quite high in India. He also demands passing of the legislation, prohibiting promotion and use of tobacco in any public place, which is pending since 1986.

Equally concerned about six million tobacco growers in the country, Landers feels the government should encourage the farmers to divert to another industry by announcing subsidies in other crops. Following his example, he has also urged the government to file a suit against tobacco industry, demanding compensation for the tobacco victims.

"I now understand some of the shocking facts which reveals how the tobacco industry put profits over people, stonewall its criticism and conceal scientific evidence from the public and its customers. I call upon the lawmakers of this country to protect our children from this deadly substance", states the actor-turned-activist of Hollywood.


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