Deadline for ban on smoking scenes extended, says Anbumani

Even till last week, I&B officials made it clear that the ban could not be implemented

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry has extended till January 1, 2006 the deadline for banning depiction of smoking scenes and tobacco products in films and television serials. The decision has been taken at the request of the Information and Broadcasting Minister and the film industry, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told The Hindu here on Thursday.

"This is the final extension and after this we will go ahead with the ban." The Health Ministry would not accept the I & B Ministry's suggestions on grading films showing smoking and tobacco products. "We will fight the case with the help of the best lawyers," he said.

The ban was announced on May 31 to be implemented on August 15. But the implementation was deferred to October 2 after the I & B Ministry, the film industry and the tobacco lobby raised objections. The Health Ministry gave concessions, but there was no consensus even till last week when I & B officials made it clear that the ban could not be implemented.

Then film director Mahesh Bhatt moved the Delhi High Court against the ban. The two Ministries are expected to file a reply to the court notice at Friday's hearing.

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