Thursday, 31 May 2007

Excessive campaign against tobacco: Wine is Fine

First of all let me clarify that I am neither a smoker or associated with a cigarette brand (or tobacco company) but the pitch against tobacco that is getting shriller every year, really annoys me.

Today was No Tobacco Day and it seemed that consumption of tobacco is a the worst of all crimes in the society. But I don't see any such campaign against the liquor, which makes a person addict in a very different sense than cigarette or gutka.

Once you are addicted to liquor, it takes its toll on your entire family and ruins the life. Tobacco is a health hazard but surely not in this category. But it is made out to be the biggest culprit. While wine is celebrated and promoted these days. Tobacco is much cheaper and smoking is still not such a costly addiction compared to alcoholism that hits the finances of the family. Innumerable families suffer due to alcoholic men.
If tobacco can cause cancer, liquor is no nectar. But liquor seems to have got the approval. Most of the women, I know, approve of social drinking but their eyebrows are raised when a man lights a cigarette (is it because he hasn't asked their permission?).

And smoking doesn't lead to crime but liquor does lead to all kinds of anti-social activities including sexual crimes, still the latter is fast becoming acceptable and cigarette/tobacco is condemned excessively.
I fail to understand this strong movement against smoking, which is acquiring a dangerous momentum with time though smoking 'bidi' has been a part of culture in rural India.

Urban Indians may laugh at it but in rural areas, especially in parts of Haryana, UP, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, women can't do without a 'beedi'.

The advertisements are banned, the cigarette/bidi packets are now carrying warnings in bold letters and every year they are taxed heavily. Though love for liquor grows. I know many would say that alcohol can be beneficial and has medicinal properties but I feel that this requires exceptional restraint which most of the alcohol consumers find nearly impossible to achieve.

(Photographs: A woman enjoys a puff of bidi in Delhi on top right. Here on the left two women light up their bidis)

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