A Healthy Concern

smokin.jpgAfter running out of all other populist movements (‘Save the Tress’, Clean the Campus’ and ‘Help the Dogs be Ticks-n-Rabies Free’), our Madame DUSU President affected a blanket ban on smoking in the campus from February 15. If you are one of those who signed that humungous piece of canvas, demanding to make the campus ‘Tobacco Free’; you need not read any further. I have no sympathies with you. I absolutely detest your perverse pleasure in seeing the smokers annoyed and irritated, having to walk for miles for a drag.

I hardly need to add that Madame President’s concern for our health is an echo of the health minister’s argument for banning smoking in public places. You may feel I am being biased but having once read an article by Karan Thapar regarding Ramadoss’ decision to edit all smoking scenes from films; I was convinced that our health minister is an arrogant nutcase who believed the rest of the country to be idiots who couldn’t tell cigarette butts from natural ones. His ‘argument’ was an assumption that adults and children, not having enough brains to fill an eggcup, would frantically start lighting up one cigarette after another, the moment they see SRK take a stylish puff from his Goldflake.

This insightful remark was immediately followed by surveys and researches which proved that 94.357 percent of school kids had their first drags after watching so-and-so actor in XYZ film! I am sure many of you find these gimmicks as irksome as I do; but you tell yourself that this is not an entirely evil world since even these nasty regulations and restrictions are implemented keeping our long term health and well being in mind. If only that would be true! Agreed that cigarette smoking can be injurious to health. But so is over-eating, over-exercising, listening to loud music and wearing stilettos. Ever seen the health minister (or the DUSU president) trying to regulate these or even take a light interest in them? Why have these been conveniently ‘othered’, while smoking continues to make headlines? I think we are already familiar with the answer.

The ‘culture of smoking’ has not yet been entirely assimilated by our society at large. A large part of the population takes it to be a vice almost at par with the six deadly sins in Hinduism. Smokers, especially women (a minority), are condemned by even the elite and educated. It would be a boost to any Party’s popularity to join the masses (and the culture brigade) in slamming down smoking. And when a constraint comes masquerading as a health benefit, it is usually lapped up by even the most cynical and rebellious among us. So in the end, we must never mind that the campus does not have adequate facilities for outstation students, or the required safety measures for women or even the degenerated state of colleges. What after all is going to bring Delhi University (along with its students union) in the limelight is its clean, fresh, ‘tobacco free’ air!

Mitia Nath

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smorchon/2279443485/]